By Michael Kemp
When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
when sorrows like sea billows roll;
whatever my lot, thou hast taught me to say,
it is well, it is well with my soul.
For over a century these lyrics have been a respite for many and with good reason. The author, Horatio Spafford, penned these words following the death of his four daughters who drowned at sea. Every time we sing “It Is Well with My Soul,” we don’t just sing beautifully crafted words set to a particularly moving rhyme and meter; we sing the story of a man who exhibited Job-like faith when facing his darkest hour, and we are inspired to do the same.
Similarly, every time we sing, “Amazing Grace,” we retell—relive even—the experience of the hymn’s author, John Newton, a former slave-trader turned abolitionist. Newton once wrote, “I can see no reason why the Lord singled me out for mercy…unless it was to show, by one astonishing instance, that with him ‘nothing is impossible’” (The Life of John Newton). Like Newton, we often feel unworthy to be recipients of God’s amazing grace; yet, he freely offers it to all—even a wretch like me.
Something extraordinary happens every time Christians gather together to sing the hymns of Newton, Spafford, and countless others. When we proclaim together with one voice the veracity of scripture and recount the testimonies of the faithful who have gone before us, our faith is strengthened, and our lives are transformed more and more into that of Christ. We become the embodiment of the 6th century Latin maxim, “lex orandi, lex credendi, lex vivendi”—As we worship, so we believe, so we live.
Something powerful happens every time Christians gather together to sing praise to God, and this April the Jackson community will have a unique opportunity to do just that.
On Saturday, April 30 at 3 p.m., Christ United Methodist Church in Jackson is hosting a Community Hymn Festival. This year’s Hymn Festival, “Great Hymns of the Faith,” is FREE to the public and will feature ten of the most well-known and inspiring hymns of all-time—hymns like, “Great Is Thy Faithfulness,” “It Is Well with My Soul,” How Great Thou Art,” and of course, “Amazing Grace.” A combined choir of 200 voices from local churches and an orchestra will lead the evening’s music, under the direction of special guest conductor, Camp Kirkland, one of the premier church musicians in the United States.
If you love hymns, you won’t want to miss this exciting opportunity. Mark your calendar for Saturday, April 30 at 3 p.m., and join the choirs from eleven participating churches at Christ United Methodist Church (6000 Old Canton Rd. in Jackson) as we gather together to sing Great Hymns of the Faith!
For more information visit www.christunitedjxn.org or contact Michael Kemp, Director of Music & Worship at Christ United Methodist Church 601-956-6974.