Lessons From “The Old School Hymnal”

Church songs are not what they used to be. I’m not here to debate the use of your church’s music verses ours. I’m simply stating a fact.

The reason I’m able to state this so plainly is because I came across an old hymnal today. I can’t remember where we got it from, possibly my mother?
Where it came from is irrelevant.
What I found inside is not.

These songs and the ones who put the hymnal together were from another time entirely.
“The Old School Hymnal” (yes, that’s really the name of it) was copyrighted in 1942, with a few “newer” songs (circa 1944) inserted in the back.

This inscription was found in the front cover:

The War Time Edition
The dreadful conflict is still raging in which our Nation has been drawn, and the increased cost of material, labor, etc., has made it necessary to increase price.

The price at the time of this printing had been raised to $.60 for one copy, and $5.50 for one dozen copies.

As I read through some of the lyrics, it amazed me at the depth of the Theology in them, especially when compared to so many popular songs our churches sing today.
Let me share a few examples:

This one had no title, but was written by Charles Wesley.
1- Father, I stretch my hands to Thee; No other help I know. If Thou withdraw Thyself from me, Ah! Whither shall I go?
2- What did Thine only Son endure, Before I drew my breath? What pain, what labor to secure My soul from endless death!
3- O Jesus, could I this believe, I now should feel Thy power; And all my want Thou would’st relieve, In this accepted hour.
4- Author of Faith! to Thee I lift my weary, longing eyes; O let me now receive that gift– My soul without it dies.
5- How would my fainting soul rejoice, Could I but see Thy face; Now let me hear Thy quickening voice, And taste Thy pardoning grace.

This one titled, “How Sweet The Name” was written by T. Hastings.
1- How sweet the name of Jesus sounds in a believer’s ear; It soothes his sorrow, heals his wounds, and drives away his fear.
2- It makes the wounded spirit whole, and calms the troubled breast; Tis manna to the hungry soul, and to the weary rest.
3- Dear Name, the Rock on which I build, my shield and hiding place; My never failing treasure, filled with boundless stores of grace.
4- Jesus, my Shepherd, Savior, Friend; My Prophet, Priest, and King; my Lord, my Life, my Way, my End, Accept the praise I bring.
5- I would Thy boundless love proclaim with every fleeting breath; So shall the music of Thy name refresh my soul in death.

See what I mean?!
These songs had meaning.
They came from a place and time when the people who wrote and sang these songs held to the truth found in them.

This was during World War 2, and these people had nothing…except Jesus.
He was all they had to cling to.
Their hope, their expectancy, their rest.
Where would they find it if not in Christ?

We are a spoiled, selfish people.
Before you get defensive, I said we.
I’m just as guilty as anyone else.
We desperately need to get back to the place where we look to and lean on Christ alone.
We need Him more than we need anything else…even if we won’t admit it.

Here is the last song in the book.
This was their hope.
This is still our hope today.

“The Home Where’s No War” written by J. A. Monsees in 1944
1- There’s no discord in Heaven, the home we view afar; Where peace will reign forever, The home where there’s no war.
2- No sad partings await us, no comrades left afar; When dear ones meet in glory, The home where there’s no war.
3- No forward march is given, No toilsome work to mar; No aching hearts in Heaven, The home where there’s no war.
4- The battles will be over, no prison camps to bar; We’ll have a peaceful harbor, The home where there’s no war.

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4 thoughts on “Lessons From “The Old School Hymnal”

  1. Beautiful, beautiful hymns, rich in meaning. Sung acapella, four part harmony – it doesn’t get any better. We still use the Old School Hymnal, although a newer version.

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