Hymns for a Child’s Heart, Part 1
About the Guest
The great hymns of our faith bring inspiration, joy and sometimes comfort to our lives. Today on the broadcast, Joni Eareckson Tada, founder and president of Joni and Friends, along with singer Bobbie Wolgemuth, tell about the circumstances that birthed some of our most classic hymns.
The great hymns of our faith bring inspiration, joy and sometimes comfort to our lives.
Bob: You know, this is interesting—I grew up in a Presbyterian church. I mentioned going to the Methodist church for a while, and we learned some different hymns at the Methodist church than I had learned at the Presbyterian church.
Then I started dating my wife, who had spent the last three years of her life in a Baptist church after she had grown up in a Catholic church. Well, by the time we all came together, first of all, I was learning songs from her that I'd never heard before. I'd never sung Trust and Obey growing up in a Presbyterian church.
Then I remember one day coming home with a tape to my wife; and I said, "You've got to hear this song." It was called Holy God, We Praise Thy Name, and I started playing the hymn for her. She said, "Oh, we sang that all the time in the Catholic church." I'd never heard it in 30 years of church-going.
There are different hymns associated with different traditions, but all of them have a rich heritage. We can benefit from “cross-pollenization” like that, can't we?
Joni: We can, and one of my favorite hymn writers that we educate children about in this book, Hymns for a Kid's Heart, is Charles Wesley. I love his family story. Did you know that Charles Wesley wrote over 6,000 hymns? Now, if you think about it, that's one hymn a day for 17 years. That's a lot of writing hymns.
Bobbie, tell our friends …
Bobbie: He had a great mom.
Joni: He really did.
Bobbie: Susannah Wesley, with 18 children, homeschooled them with the Bible. From the time the kids were little, she'd wake them up in the morning and say, "Okay, everybody, up. We're going to sing the glorious Psalms this morning." So the kids grew up with a Bible and singing these verses.
Of course, Charles grew up to write poems wherever he was. He and his brother, John, were behind the Methodist revival that spread all over Europe and changed, really, the course of the church.
Joni: Charles Wesley was so gifted at twisting words around and giving people new ways to sing about praises to God. For instance, “O for a thousand tongues to sing,”—think about it. If we had a thousand tongues—1,000 tongues—we could really raise the roof when it comes to praising God.
I personally love the last part of the last verse of O for a Thousand Tongues. “Hear Him, ye deaf, His praise, ye dumb, your loosened tongues employ; ye blind, behold your Savior come and leap ye, lame for joy." Yahoo! That's me. I can't wait until that day I get to leap out of this wheelchair.
Dennis: And, you know, we underestimate what great music can do for the heart. There are a lot of our listeners going through challenges and valleys and difficult days. We are commanded, in Scripture, to praise Him regardless of our circumstances. Praise lifts us out of a point of being despondent.
Joni, you went through a period of time where you wanted to die.
Joni: That's right, Dennis. Shortly after my accident, I was so despairing, so discouraged. God used those hymns that I memorized as a child; and I thank the Lord for my mommy and daddy, for teaching me those good hymns.
He used them to focus my thoughts and direct my thinking, lift me out of depression, and dissipate the cloud of despair. It made all the difference in the world. He gives us a garment of praise for a spirit of heaviness. We're glad that all of these hymns in this book are hymns about praising God.
Dennis: And there will undoubtedly be a time when your family will be in the car going somewhere and maybe the kids will be screaming—maybe the baby will be crying—pop this CD in the car. Begin to learn these hymns if you don't already know them, because, really, you've skimmed the cream off the top.
I had to say as I was singing my way through the Atlanta Airport, song after song of just great memories as a boy, sitting in church, hearing the gospel and learning about God but then singing about Him from the depths of my heart.
Bobbie: That reminds me of my granddaughter. When she was 5, I taught her Holy, Holy, Holy. There is a line in there that says, “Who, wert, and art and evermore shalt be.” My husband said, “Do you think she can understand that?” Whether she can at age 5, I don’t think so; but someday she will.
Then she went home from that trip where I taught her that hymn. My daughter told me the next week. They went into church. The organist was playing Holy, Holy, Holy on the organ. She yanked her mom’s skirt and said, “Mom! This is my hymn!”
For a child to own a hymn in their heart, they will carry it with them forever just like your voice is an instrument you carry with you wherever you go. The hymn will live in that child.
Bob: I don't know what it is about the car and us, but we were on a trip together as a family. Mary Ann had gone into the grocery store to get something. One of the things we've done from time to time—it will get a little crazy in the car, and we'll just, all of a sudden, everyone will sing at the top of their lungs a different song. All a cacophony here in the car of—you try to out-sing the other person with whatever song—it may be a camp song, it may be a hymn, it may be whatever.
On this particular evening, Mary Ann had gone in to the store, and we broke out—all of us singing different songs. I don't even remember how it happened. I think somebody was singing a song that everybody else kind of wanted to join in on. By the time Mary Ann came back, the whole car was singing hymns together, and we did that from the store back to the hotel.
We got out of the car, and Mary Ann said, "How did that happen?" I explained to her what had happened, and explained to her that it was the kids who had kind of taken the lead on doing that. There was just a smile, you know—that here are the kids loving to sing hymns together with their brothers and sisters. That's one of those memories that you'll tuck away for the days when the kids are misbehaving, and you go, "At least there was that one time when they sang hymns, and we all felt good about each other."
Dennis: Yeah, and the thing that I like about this book are the stories that really interest our children and can hold their interest—not merely around the song but around the background of the child who came from a family that was imperfect. They were interrupting family times as we talked about earlier. I just think this is a great, great tool for every Christian family and would encourage folks—What was your reward, Bob, for memorizing 35 of these?
Bob: I got my own hymnal with my name embossed in the front cover. It's a red hymnal—it's a leather-bound hymnal.
Dennis: I think a challenge ought to go out to the young listeners. Let's challenge the young listeners to memorize these 12 hymns that are in Hymns for a Kid's Heart.
Bob: And Mr. Rainey will then buy you a hymnal, is that how it works?
Dennis: I was thinking you would buy the hymnal. [laughter]
Bob: Mom and Dad.
Dennis: Joni & Friends.
Joni: You know what...
Dennis: Joni & Friends will buy...
Joni: Bobbie and I—we’ll definitely foot the bill on that one. [laughter]
Bob: We have copies of the book, Hymns for a Kid's Heart available in our FamilyLife Today Resource Center—also the Christmas version, Christmas Carols for a Kid’s Heart as well.
I want to encourage our listeners to go to FamilyLifeToday.com. The book comes with piano music for these hymns. It comes with guitar chords for the hymns, and it comes with a CD. If your family is not particularly musically-inclined, you can pop in the CD and just sing along as you learn these hymns together.
Again, go to FamilyLifeToday.com for more information about both books, Hymns for a Kid’s Heart and Christmas Carols for a Kid’s Heart. You can order them online from us or you can call 1-800-FL-TODAY; 1-800-358-6329. That is
1-800-F as in “Family”, L as in “Life”, and then the word TODAY.
When you are done singing hymns together, you can take the CD out, and you can put in a different CD. We would love to send you a copy of the audio version of Barbara Rainey’s book, Thanksgiving: A Time to Remember. This is a dramatic reading of the story of the first Thanksgiving. It really is great for families to listen to together as you travel or in your home on Thanksgiving Day.
The CD audio is our thank-you gift to you when you help support the ministry of FamilyLife Today this month with a donation. You can donate online at FamilyLifeToday.com or you can call 1-800-FL-TODAY to make a donation.
If you donate on line, please type the word “THANKSGIVING,” into the key code box on the online donation form so that we know to send you a copy of this CD; or call 1-800-FLTODAY and just ask for the Thanksgiving CD when you make your donation. Again, we are happy to send it to you; and we are grateful for your support of the ministry and your partnership with us as donors to FamilyLife Today.
Now, tomorrow, we are going to hear about the hymn that most people sing— probably not in church—and they might not even think of it as a hymn, but it really is a hymn. Bobbie Wolgemuth and Joni Eareckson Tada will be back to talk with us about that. Hope you can be with us as well.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, and our entire broadcast production team on behalf of our host Dennis Rainey; I’m Bob Lepine. We will see you back tomorrow for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas.
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