We all stand through them every day. Most of us know all of the words to at least one. We all have strong feelings about them. It is time to review some classic St. Mary’s hymns.
One of my favorite parts of chapel is singing a good hymn. In fact, I can regularly be heard loudly discussing hymns. I have strong feelings about almost every hymn. Now, in my seventh year singing hymns every school day and in my 17th year in the Episcopal church, I offer my reviews of some beloved SMS hymns from Episcopal Hymnal 1982.
456 “O Love of God, how strong and true” - This hymn has my favorite line of any hymn. “Our life to live, our death to die.” A reasonable length for a hymn. Not too happy, but also not at all saddening. 8.75/10
554 “Tis a gift to be simple, ‘tis a gift to be free” (the Shaker Grace) - The best hymn in the hymnal. This hymn is the perfect hymn. It is short while still leaving every singer with a sense of fulfillment. It is easy to sing even though it goes higher than some of our altos in the crowd would prefer. Plus, it was written by a utopian group in the 1800s. 10/10
8 “Morning has broken” - The classic senior speech hymn. Short and to the point. While its tune and words leave something to be desired, it isn’t six verses long. 4/10
686 “Come, thou fount of every blessing” - The older you get, the more you learn to love this song. It can be a bit annoying during those years when we sing it every other senior speech, BUT this song is the song of St. Mary’s. When I am old and dying and miss my younger years at St. Mary’s, this will be the song that is playing to remind me of my mornings spent in chapel. 6/10
“Will you come and follow me” - This is the best hymn not in the hymnal in my humble opinion. A beautiful melody and delightful words. Easy to sing. A little longer than necessary. 8/10
99 “Go tell it on the mountain” - Clapping. Disapproving stares from faculty. Everyone is off beat. A jazzy melody. Christmas. Nothing better. 11/10
412 “Earth and all stars” - This song is far too long. Six verses and a refrain (for those who do not know it, it is “He has done marvelous things. I, too, will praise him with a new song."). Ridiculous. Its lyrics also do not make any sense. Planets do not rush. Melody may be happy, but I am not. 1.5/10
711 “Seek ye first” - An all-time favorite. Singing first makes every freshman finally feel like a high schooler. You are not a high schooler until you sing first. A gorgeous melody and the best round. Lovely. 9.45/10
648 “When Israel was in Egypt’s land” - It is in the minor key. It perfectly conveys its message of longing. Not too long, although some would argue it is too slow. 9/10
439 “What wondrous love is this?” - This hymn adds a level of spookiness to our normal chapel days. It is a favorite among the ghost enthusiasts of our school. A reasonably easy hymn to sing with ominous words that puts you back into the medieval Catholic Church. 8.5/10
It is time to discuss my favorite chapels. Hymn sings. I love hymn sings more than any chapel. We sing the best songs and we only have to sing one verse. Even though I do love every hymn sing, I have some requests for those of you who suggest hymns.
Thank you. Please be seated.