Snowdrift Hymns

Tiny notes hammered on the hidden harp float up into my little ears and flutter about like snowflakes looking for a place to land. My daddy’s voice comes in on lead. Reverb passes through walls like the resurrected Christ. Warm in this fortress, I open my eyes and squint at sunlight magnified over bright snow.

Years of Sunday mornings I wake up this way, with the sound of hymns as my alarm clock, and smile as I stretch out of my pilled-up nightgown and slip into a smocked dress to head to our gathering place. There in the stream of light filtering through stained glass, I click my buckled shoes on linoleum and watch Daddy move his hands like a gust of wind swooping and bouncing the words out to us in 3/4 time.

I look down at page 236 in Great Hymns of the Faith, follow the path of the notes on the lines of the treble clef, and listen to my mom turn them into music on the church piano. I hear steadfast men bellowing bass notes and graceful women with their shivering vibratos.

I sing with them.

Slowly the feathery fragments find one another, waft on bursts of winter wind and drift their way into piles, each individual with its delicate symmetry joining with the one next to it.

I know these words by heart already and so I slide the green fabric-covered hymnal into the wooden slot on the back of the pew. I can recite the musical poetry, but I don’t yet know what these words will mean to me when someday I will walk through the halls of another church and wonder if He can really forgive me for all the ways I’ve wronged Him.

The choir’s harmonies will swirl in the air and those words will drift together, phrase upon phrase, note upon note, and they will pile on the years of Sunday morning truths sung out, altogether heaped into a strong fort of grace that saved a wretch like me.

(We revel in the hymns in our house. I want my kids to know them by heart, too. Click below to hear my baby girl singing her favorite tune.)

7 thoughts on “Snowdrift Hymns

  1. I thought Farah was sweet singing Amazing Grace. I think it is great to keep the generational continuity going with your kids. However, it is funny to remember the “old school” songleading. I like a lot of the hymns we used to do but a lot of them fall into the category of, “I only did them because it was a requirement of the indy-fundy world in which I resided.” I really appreciate the genre of worship songs more now as I grow older and only like a few hymns done in their original style, and a lot more hymns as they are made a little more contemporary. I guess the hymns with more depth are the ones that stick with me now – E.g. It Is Well. Don’t ask me about other ones because I would have to go through a list to pick them out. Maybe a project on a sick day sometime.

    • I think most churches depended on the hymn book in that era, even those who weren’t “indy-fundy”. I know Craig’s church did. I’m glad for the old songs passed down– as even some of the antiquated phrasing so richly expresses meaning. I still know dozens of those songs by heart. As I wrote this post with the imagery of the snow fort, I found myself moving from “Amazing Grace” (who doesn’t know that one by heart?!!) to humming and singing “Rock of ages, cleft for me, let me hide myself in Thee.”

  2. She’s so cute and a quite a good singer (and verbal!!! Oh Marcus is so not verbal. :) My goal is to have more hymns playing. The last VBS cd had some updated hymns on it and I loved it, need to get the boys listening to more.

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