Pam Rhodes selects favourite hymns that mark the milestones in life - baptisms, weddings and funerals, as well as national events and celebrations.
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These photos bring back such lovely memories, but I bet I'm not alone
in thinking that my hymn book also reminds me of many special moments.
You try opening yours and I reckon you'll find that whatever
the milestone in life, there's a hymn for every occasion.
This week, hymnologist and author Gordon Giles, his parishioners
at St Mary Magdalene in Enfield
and congregations from across the nation with
a selection of traditional hymns we can turn to whatever the occasion.
Every single hymn in this book was written for an occasion.
A special event or something momentous in the writer's life
that made them want to reach out to God in prayer and praise.
Well, today is Father's Day,
so it's a lovely occasion to draw a parallel between the love
we feel for our fathers here on earth
and the wonderful love of our father in heaven.
It's a time of great rejoicing
when a baby is brought to church for baptism
so that their family can join with the family of the church
to dedicate that child's life to God's care and service.
Gordon Giles is vicar of St Mary Magdalene in Enfield
and the author of several books on hymnody.
Baptism is about committing our lives to God for
the length of our lifelong journey, really.
So it begins with the presence of the Lord early in life.
Be Still For The Presence Of The Lord is a very good hymn
to have at a baptism.
This idea of standing on holy ground
when the Holy Spirit descends on us even now.
We have a treasure store of hymns in our lives and we plunder them and
we take out the shiny bits and look at them and sing them and enjoy them.
And so this really does help us lift ourselves up.
We lift our voices to the Lord in praise
and that's what we're called to do in worship.
Worship is the offering of worth.
Weorthscipe, in old English, it was called,
and it was about offering the work of prayer to God, to his glory.
And that's a really upbeat thing.
And so there's this sense of our whole lives being consecrated to God.
And the hymn, Take My Life, And Let It Be, of course, is all about that.
About the consecration of all of our lives,
every part of our life, as we go through the journey of life.
Getting started in the morning can be challenging at any age
as we face whatever the day has in store for us.
And so, a hymn that asks for God's blessing on our working day
can be both prayerful and reassuring.
The hymn that gets me through the working day is Amazing Grace.
The words are incredibly powerful and it is, of course,
by God's grace that we do get through our day,
the empowering and the filling of the spirit that keeps us
close to God and helps us to do all that's good in our lives.
My most favourite hymn is Dear Lord And Father Of Mankind.
And it seems to sum up for me my pilgrimage journey,
really, with Christ.
It talks of praising God, exalting God, it talks of deliverance,
it talks of truth and it also talks of service.
And at the end, acknowledging the Trinity
that we believe in, God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Perhaps the lines,
"Drop thy still dews of quietness till all our strivings cease
"take from our souls the strain and stress,"
I think that maybe the words I would think were the most
appropriate on occasions when you're worried about something.
All Things Bright And Beautiful.
Because that just lifts me
and it makes me think of all the things I'm grateful for.
My favourite hymn is the hymn that my daddy wrote the words to.
And it's called, You Are The Vine.
# You are the vine
# And we are the branches... #
It's about that Jesus and God are the leaders and we are his children.
I remember that lovely phrase, that advert when I was a child,
"A Mars a day helps you work, rest and play."
And I like to think that a hymn a day helps you work, rest and play.
And this hymn, Lord Of All Hopefulness, takes us through the day
and reminds us that God is with us all day, at any point in the day.
And we can pray to him at any point of the day.
And this hymn sums up that idea.
Singing that hymn for us was the congregation in Cockermouth,
a local community that pulled together
after the 2009 Cumbrian floods devastated their area.
Some disasters touch hearts on an international scale,
like the sinking of the luxury liner the Titanic just over 100 years ago.
We have a rather nice link with the Titanic here in this church
because we've discovered that one of the people who painted
the walls in fact went on to work on the bar of the Titanic
which, of course, his work only lasted a few days, sadly.
There is a story that as the Titanic was sinking, the band played on.
This has been immortalised in films and so on,
and that they played Nearer My God To Thee.
There is a debate over which tune they used,
whether it was the tune that we tend to use in England
or the tune they tend to use in North America.
The problem is the story probably isn't true.
Exactly the same story exists in relation to the sinking
of the SS Valencia in 1906 so we have to be a bit dubious about this story.
Great hymn as it is and lovely as the idea
that as the ship was sinking,
the people were thinking, "Nearer My God To Thee."
What we do know is that Easter had just happened
when the Titanic sailed and there was an Easter service.
100 people gathered and they sang Eternal Father, Strong To Save,
which is perhaps ironic, and a hymn called On The Resurrection Morning,
which is not one we know nowadays.
But there was worship on the Titanic before it sank
but whether they really sang Nearer My God To Thee
as the ship was sinking, I think we have to have an open mind about that.
As a nation we don't only sing hymns in times of trouble,
we delve into our hymn books when we have got something to celebrate too.
And we had so much to celebrate last year - our Queen's Diamond Jubilee,
Britain hosting the Olympics
and of course, this year is the Coronation anniversary.
Some hymns have become really popular and famous
and much used and much loved because they've been used
at great occasions in the life of our nation or our Royal Family.
The hymn I Vow To Thee, My Country was used both at the wedding
of Princess Diana and the Prince of Wales and of course at her funeral.
Two very different kinds of occasions, of course.
That hymn united those occasions and united the nation.
The Lord's My Shepherd was used by the Queen
and Prince Philip at their wedding,
and again at the service commemorating their 60th wedding anniversary.
People often do that.
They have their favourite hymns that they use on occasions
that punctuate their lives.
Some of these famous hymns take us out of church,
sometimes even onto the football terraces,
the great hymn Abide With Me, we all know, is associated with the FA Cup final
and some people only sing that hymn in Wembley Stadium
or perhaps at home on television.
Some of the great royal events, the great celebrations,
people do join in at home and sing the hymns too.
This can help us join in the celebration,
we can feel part of it by singing along.
But it seems to me that a hymnody involves three things.
You need words, of course you do.
You need music, of course you do.
But you need people.
A hymn is not a hymn unless it is sung.
It's all very well on the page,
it is all very well having a lovely tune
and you can play the tune without the words,
you read the words without the tune
but what you need to have a proper trinity of hymnody
is the words and the music together with the people
and in that way, the Spirit worships in us and through us
and is working of God the Trinity.
And the regal setting for our next hymn of joyful celebration
is Christopher Wren's magnificent chapel
at the Old Royal Naval College in Greenwich.
Our Queen's reign has been graced by the very special partnership
she shared with her consort, Prince Philip.
In 2012, during the Queen's Diamond Jubilee year,
the Royal couple also celebrated their 65th wedding anniversary.
And for many people, a Christian marriage is another of life's major milestones.
On our wedding day we had Praise My Soul The King Of Heaven.
We thought everybody would know it and join in and unify together.
And Love Divine, I think, for obvious reasons -
our love and God's love for us.
My favourite hymn that we had at the wedding was
The King Of Love My Shepherd Is.
And I think the melody of that one is so beautiful,
the lilting melody and the words are so special.
Traditional hymns to me remind me of the contents of a treasured locket.
Something like this one, that's my wedding locket.
As we have in the locket, there is something
of a loved one in the hymns.
We have the story of the love of God and it comes to life.
My favourite hymn, especially written for a Christian marriage,
was featured in the Songs Of Praise programme from All Saints Church in Evesham
to mark the day dedicated to the life of the patron saint of love and marriage, St Valentine.
It is a fact of life that we all lose people we love.
Parents, partners, friends.
Jesus, Lover Of My Soul.
I think that's a lovely, soft hymn,
more spiritual than some of the other hymns.
I find that they fetch back memories to me, good and bad,
and it makes me think of people that have passed,
you know, and the communion of saints.
For All The Saints was played at my mother's funeral which,
whenever I hear that, it creases me up.
I can't really...
..listen to it without having emotions.
Seek Ye First is my favourite hymn.
We sang it when we went to Jerusalem on a pilgrimage
and it became our theme tune.
I remember the people that were away with us
and sadly, some of those folks are no longer with us.
So that's why it is so dear to me.
My family love Eternal Father.
I had it at my wedding and my husband was in the Navy
and we had it at his funeral and whenever it is sung in church,
my daughter, if I look over towards her, she's crying.
She loves that one.
A hymn that is very important to me is The King Of Love My Shepherd Is.
My husband spent two years in an Alzheimer's ward.
He didn't recognise anybody, he didn't know us at all
but you only had to sing that hymn to him
and there was immediate recognition.
and that lasted almost to the end of his life.
May the king of love, who keeps and guides us,
save us from our sins, hear our prayers
and fire us with his word that we may live for Christ alone.
And the blessing of God Almighty, the Father,
the Son and the Holy Spirit be among you and remain with you always.
Whether for grand public occasions
or for much more private moments of joy or sorrow,
hymns speak to us of the ups and downs of everyday life
and how God's presence is constantly with us our whole lives through.
Later this year we will reveal the UK's top ten favourite hymns
but to find out what they are, we need you to cast your vote.
Go to the Songs Of Praise website.
Look at the list of 100 familiar hymns and choose your favourite.
It couldn't be simpler.
The ten most popular will be sung at the Big Sing at the Royal Albert Hall.
Next week, join me for some more hymns
that suit every season in the Christian calendar.
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