With so many hymns filed away in my brain, writing about a favorite hymn should be an easy task. But trying to decide which one to make the subject of this article reminded me of the time my siblings and I asked my mother the question I suppose all siblings ask their mothers sooner or later—“Which one of us is your favorite?” My mother answered immediately, “Why, you’re all my favorite.” So it is with many of the hymns I know; they’re all my favorites.
As I was going through the list of hymns I know, I was impressed by the fact that I know so many, and I began to consider how it came to be. Growing up in a Christian home with parents who made sure we were in church each Sunday is where it all began. We sang the hymns at church and then sang the hymns at home. I remember my mother and I often singing together while we did the supper dishes. “Rock of Ages” and “Jesus, Saviour, Pilot Me” were some of our favorites along with many others. My sisters played the piano, and I sang while they played. My sister Ruth’s specialty was “At Calvary.” These hymns and many others were tucked away in my mind, and I didn’t realize at the time what they would mean to me as the years went by.
In my early years, as I sang those hymns, I think I loved them just for the joy of singing. I was saved at a young age, but my youthfulness hindered me from understanding fully and empathizing with what I was singing. Now I find that any number of things will bring a hymn to my mind. I may be on the mountaintop or in the valley spiritually or emotionally, and a hymn will pop into my mind just when it’s needed.
Many mornings in Phoenix, especially in the winter months, as I was on my bus commute to work I would look to the east just as the sun was rising over the mountains and these hymn words would spring to my mind: “When morning gilds the sky, my heart awaking cries, / May Jesus Christ be praised!” What a joy and comfort it was to be reminded that Christ would be with me that day!
When my father passed away in 2010 and my mother in 2012, “Hiding in Thee” was a comforting hymn, especially the second verse:
In the calm of the noontide, in
sorrow’s lone hour,
In times when temptation casts o’er
me its pow’r;
In the tempests of life, on its wide,
Thou blest “Rock of Ages,” I’m
hiding in Thee.
I remember that during my teenage years I often became discouraged by the spiritual roller coaster I was constantly riding. I couldn’t help thinking that my favor with God depended on how good I was. I think of this struggle sometimes when we sing the hymn, “The Perfect Righteousness of God” and it thrills my heart.
The sin is on the Saviour laid,
‘Tis in His blood sin’s debt is paid;
Stern Justice can demand no more,
And Mercy can dispense her store.
The sinner who believes is free,
Can say: “The Saviour died for me;”
Can point to the atoning blood,
And say: “This made my peace with God.”
I’m so grateful that from my early years these great hymns of the faith began to be engrained in me so that I truly benefit from them in my later years. I’m also grateful that they’ve been engrained in our daughter as well as our granddaughters. My prayer is that they will not only love these hymns but that they will above all love the subject of these hymns, the Lord Jesus Christ.
Mary Mook is the wife of Rev. David Mook, the minister of Phoenix FPC in Peoria, Arizona.