What Hymns Are Essential?

I have been meaning to post my thoughts on the first week in my ‘new’ church, and I will get to that this afternoon. But I wanted to ask a question. I was quite surprised that very few people in my Methodist home church know the song ‘And Can It Be‘ by Charles Wesley. This is something of an ‘unofficial’ Methodist anthem in Britain. I will of course be teaching it to them! I think every Methodist needs to know this song!

That got me thinking: what hymns should every congregation know and sing? Are there ones that reflect who we are so much that every congregation should be able to say, ‘Yes, I know that one’?


7 thoughts on “What Hymns Are Essential?

  1. I encountered this problem in the church I serve, and I have yet to solve it.

    O For A Thousand Tongues to Sing is still this alien song the pastor makes us sing sometimes. I was stunned at Easter when the organist did not know Christ the Lord is Risen Today.

    I look forward to your list.

  2. Amazing Grace, Love Divine All Loves Excelling, Take my Life and Let it Be are some that jump right out to me – but this is a hard exercise for me, because so many different hymns are essential to me – old and new, American, British, and from all over the world.
    Guess this is what happens when a PK becomes a pastor, then goes on family leave, buys a piano, and sings hymns every night that her pianist husband chooses – with the result that more and more of the hymnal(s) gets covered. Next thing you know, your list of essentials has climbed to 200, and that seems conservative and even unnecessarily picky.

  3. Great is thy faithfulness, Abide with me, The Lord’s my Shepherd, Blessed Assurance, To God be the glory (both the Fanny Crosby and Andrae Crouch versions), The old rugged cross, I serve a risen Saviour – just to name a few.
    Like jerusalemtojericho I could probably have a list of 200 or more.

  4. Love Divine – definitely! I love that one and is great example of Wesleyan theology. I wonder why the Methodist Hymnal (BR) left out the second verse (‘take away our bent to sinning). Maybe Fat Prophet knows.

    The Lord’s My Shepherd – a great way to learn scripture – in song!

    Great choices – and even if we do have 200 to list, keep them coming!

  5. I have to echo Fat Prophet on Abide with Me, Blessed Assurance, and most especially Crosby’s To God be the Glory – But I am unfamiliar with The Lord’s My Shepherd – is this one not sung in the States?
    The UMC hymnal has a number of hymns in Spanish that have become essential to me – including Tu has venido a la orilla, Pues si vivimos, and Camino pueblo de dios, all of which have become essentials for me – although sometimes I prefer the sense of the original Spanish to how it ended up being translated…

  6. “Thine Be The Glory”, “Rejoice the Lord is King” and “O Thou who camest from above” – almost unknown in the USA (at least Episcopal Churches in South Carolina). And please, let’s retain the original words, especially if changing them is a deliberate attempt to water down the hymn-writers (normally) orthodox theology. The Lord’s My Shpherd is in some US hymnals, but doesn’t seem well known.
    I agree with jerusalemtojericho about the need for hundreds rather than tens of hymns (or songs). We’re also very short of relevant hymns for large chunks of the lectionary.

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