My plan to restore the Old Familiar Hymns. …

Old Hymns
April02/ 2023
BL Rimshots

April 02, 2023


Following recent topic forays into the shadowy back alleys of Hoochee Coochee Shows and aging SI Swimsuit models, I sense a need to steer the good ship BobLee’s Rimshots on a less provocative course. 

No one raised an eyebrow at those risque’ topics, but its always best to be a chess move ahead of “the raised eyebrow” …


Back 20 plus years ago as “the Internet” was planting its cancerous roots into our daily lives, the tech muses thought it fun to create “message boards”.   On-line Towers of Babel forums for total strangers with nothing in common but a monitor, a mouse, and a keyboard to exchange inflexibly dogmatic opinions on pretty much ANYTHING. 

With humans beings at the top of the animal kingdom, surely these virtual “Hyde Park soap boxes” would manage themselves and be “great fun” for all concerned.  What could possibly go wrong …

Around Day Two of these “message boards” certainly no later than Day Four, the first “board monkey” appeared, signaling the demise of any illusion that “message boards” would be of any benefit whatsoever to human kind.  In the same way that vienna sausage, hot dogs or spam would ever be a worthy member of the food category known as “meat”.

Like those mystery meats, message boards, once introduced into society became an aggressively evasive species never to be eradicated.

I’ll never forget when it hit me that Charles Darwin might have gotten “evolution” backwards.  If “man” had ever been a positive evolution of the humanoid species, “message boards” were going to correct that misconception … revealing “man” to be somewhere between CroMagnon and the salamander on the evolutionary continuum..

Observing posters with cutesy nom de plumes dueling until 3 AM night after night over The Real Causes of The Civil War … until what shards of civility ever existed were discarded and both sides went ALLCAPS.  “ALLCAPS” being the universally agreed symbol of “Take No Prisoners” … like that bugle call that Santa Anna employed as his troops scaled the walls of The Alamo on March 6, 1836.


Jumping ahead to “these days” … The Real Causes of The Civil War having been laid aside with all sides claiming victory as is the case in EVERY on-line exchange even today.  Had there been “referees”; all sides would have SWORN the referees were against us as 62 of the 64 teams in March Madness’ fan bases have declared over the past three weeks.  To be 63 of 64 fan bases as of midnight Monday.

These days the constant Hot Topic is how many more Signs of End of Days are there left to be fulfilled before The Rapture.  Consensus is one, two at most.  No one I know is buying green bananas.  

My personal opinion is End of Days will NOT occur until John Dutton’s (Kevin Costner) fate is determined on Yellowstone.  I could be wrong on that.

Discussing End of Days is a downer.  Let’s not.

A more upbeat topic is Why Don’t Churches Play The Old Familiar Hymns any more?  I have chosen that for today’s incredibly insightful commentary.


NOTE:  My son-in-law is an ordained Anglican priest with a very successful small church – All Souls Anglican – in Richmond VA.  Danny was an ordained Presbyterian (PCA) minister but two years ago chose to go thru the pastoral “Transfer Portal” to become Anglican.  Danny’s #1 Passion is Theology … Passion #2 is Premier League Soccer … a distant #2.

My conversational stockpile on “Theology” is as limited as Danny’s is on “bass fishing” so we chat mostly about our mutual passion – four little munchkins  YaYa, ReRe, Magoo & MJ … and watching them grow.

Priest Danny and I have discussed “The Old Hymns” issue.  Apparently it ranks right up there on the Ask Your Pastor checklist with “How long should a sermon be?” –  “Was Jonah actually swallowed by a whale?” – and – “Why does God allow Bad Things to happen to Good People?”.  

The final exams at every seminary – regardless of denomination – requires every Pastor Wannabee to answer those questions in a polite erudite manner that will satisfy 95% of his congregation.  The other 5% are the Doubting Thomases who simply want to showcase their jackassity by arguing.


One popular answer to The Question is that “getting rid of the old hymns” is proof that Satan – armed with Joel Osteen’s “prosperity gospel” – is in blitzkrieg mode to take over Earth this go-round.

The more universal answer to Why Not Old Hymns is that churches have to build their congregations which requires constant “marketing” to attract new members.  Congregations are always in flux with deaths, relocations, et al. 

“Deaths” being most common among older congregates i.e. Baby Boomers / “Us”.  BBoomers / “Us” being the most enthusiastic proponents of The Older Hymns … which WE all grew up with.   

As a BabyBoomer dies, there is one less advocate for The Old Hymns for a church staff to have to pander to.

The future of any congregation is attracting young families AKA “millennials” … who – so they say – are not fans of The Old Hymns.

I question the premise that millennial families – or anyone – prefer “spirit bands” to pipe organs … or just a second-hand Hammond console from a used organ store.

Spirit (“Praise”) Bands:  Three scruffy individuals in torn jeans with an electric guitar, keyboard and a recorder blaring ear-piercing riffs that create havoc with every dog within a block of the church.  I refer to such as Jimi Hendrix cover bands.

Has ever in recorded history the phrase been uttered … “Honey, let’s join that church with the really obnoxiously loud “spirit band” – ?   If so, I want proof.

Their “hymns”(??) are 7 / 11s … seven words repeated eleven times on video boards thru-out the sanctuary.

Don’t get me started on “video boards” versus a hard cover “hymnal” that a husband & wife share.  “Sharing a hymnal with a spouse” being – IMO – an integral part of the worship process.  The key phrase being IMO.

My solution that has yet to be refuted is to split the hymns in each service – two old familiar hymns – two screeching 7/11s … after two months survey the congregation for their thoughts. 

Like Blue Diamond Almonds … I just need 1-2 familiar hymns each Sunday.  I’m not a Democrat … I’m willing to compromise.

Use recorded music if the “spirit band” is not familiar with the music for Blessed Redeemer or Rock of Ages or Morning Has Broken and, of course,  Amazing Grace.  Insert your favorite.

Getting men in any congregation to sing is an eternal issue.  I GUARANTEE you if it’s those old familiar hymns  their Joyful Noise will rattle the stained glass windows. 

I recently stumbled on a YouTube of a Bill Gaither Trio performance at Carniege Hall.  He brought out none other than George Beverly Shea to sing his signature hymn – How Great Thou Art.  Shea sang that hymn at every Billy Graham Crusade service for 50+ years.  There is a reason Why.

How Great Thou Art is Inspirational … the lyrics are Familiar and the Core of Christianity …  it makes people Feel Good.  Duh!


Here’s My Plan … for any/every Christian congregation.   Do your normal service, concluding with announcements, reminders, etc then … before the Benediction:

Have the best bass baritone in your choir or – heck – just use a recording of “Bev” Shea or Elvis or The Statler Brothers or Whoever singing How Great Thou Art. Solo thru it one time … then a second time with the congregation joining in on the familiar refrain.  


Then sings my soul My Savior God To Thee …


WOW!  THAT will be A JOYFUL NOISE! …. regardless of one’s generation or degree of tone-deafness.

With the final notes of the refrain – “…. How Greeeeat Thou Art”  resounding thru the sanctuary, the minister offers the Benediction … and the congregation is “jazzed”.   The tendency to mingle and “share the peace” is natural, not forced.   People return to The World and its Challenges INSPIRED.   

How Great Thou Art is a guaranteed “EarWorm song” … once stuck in your head, it won’t go away even if its just a phrase or two.   THAT is a Good Thing, my friends.  I bet Kathy Ireland would agree.


Maybe My Plan won’t slow down “America’s” Handbasket Descent to Hell, but it’s  a darn sight better than ALLCAPPING the Real Causes of The Civil War at 3 AM.


More of BobLee’s Rimshots – HERE



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