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Music is an important part of worship

On any Sunday in churches all across Johnson County, music will be an important part of the worship service. In some churches the great old hymns of the ages will be sung. In others more modern praise choruses will be featured. And in others both styles of songs will be a part of the service. I think both methods of praising God are great. Either method can raise our spirits and inspire us to be more dedicated to the cause of Christ.
I was raised in a family that attended church regularly. At a rather young age I was selected to be a member of the church board (first as a deacon and later as an elder). For many years I was the choir director and song leader. Over the years I became familiar with many hymns that were included in the hymnal we used: “Great Songs of the Church.”
One of my favorite hymns, of which there are many, is “I Stand Amazed.” The tune is beautiful and the text tells of Christ’s amazing love for mankind — a love so great that he suffered and died to save us.
I decided recently to find out more about hymns in general and “I Stand Amazed” and its composer in particular. Webster’s main definition of “Hymn” is “a song of praise to God.” Some hymn writers wrote both the tune and text while others wrote only one or the other, complimented with someone else’s work. Many of the hymns we sing today were written many years ago but have stood the test of time. It will be interesting to see if the modern praise songs will do so as well.
Charles Hutchison Gabriel wrote the hymn “I Stand Amazed.” He wrote both the tune and the words. He was one of several hymn writers that wrote a number of hymns. Fanny Crosby, for instance, wrote more than eight thousand hymns. Among Gabriel’s hymns are: “In Loving Kindness Jesus Came,” “There’s a Call Comes Ringing o’er the Restless Wave,” “When All My Labors and Trials are O’er,” and “I’m Pressing On the Upward way.”
Gabriel was born in Wilton, Iowa on August 18, 1856 and he died in Los Angeles, California on September 15, 1932. His early life was spent on the farm. He soon showed an aptitude and interest in music. He edited thirty-five gospel songbooks, eight Sunday school songbooks, seven books for men’s chorus, six books for ladies voices, ten children’s songbooks, nineteen collections of anthems and twenty-three cantatas. He often wrote both the words and music for his songs.
I am thankful to Charles Gabriel, Fanny Crosby and others who have given us the great hymns that have endured so many years. I am thankful too for those who in the recent past wrote the praise songs so prevalent today. What would our worship services be without music?
The hymn “I Stand Amazed,” is a reminder of the concept that is epitomized by a verse from the book of Romans in the Bible: “But God commendeth His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Now that is amazing indeed.