Years ago, I was changing the beds in my little boys’ room. I was alone in the house that summer evening. The windows at the duplex where I lived were open and the sun was setting. My mind was occupied with the task at hand and many other things that weighed me down.
Suddenly through the air came the most beautiful sound. The carillon bells from Mount Olive Lutheran church two blocks away were ringing out a melody. I knew the hymn immediately and stood still to listen.
How sweet the Name of Jesus sounds
In a believer’s ear!
It soothes his sorrows, heals his wounds,
And drives away his fear.
It makes the wounded spirit whole,
And calms the troubled breast;
’Tis manna to the hungry soul,
And to the weary, rest.
I went to the window as the bells continued, the sounds carrying over the houses on the soft night air. For those moments, the cares and concerns of life dropped away, and peace descended.
All these years later, I was with our adult daughter Mary today, and she said, “There’s a church near us. The bells were playing a hymn the other night, and I knew all the words, Mom. I recognized it. It was very peaceful.”
I smiled as she said that. I knew just what she meant. But I thought of something else. Knowledge of these hymns is a precious thing. Knowing an entire stanza is great, and knowing the whole thing is gold.
I remember making dinner one night when Will was in first grade. He was building something with his Legos around the corner. His clear voice sang out suddenly and startled me. This is what he was singing.
Glory be to God the Father,
Glory be to God the Son,
Glory be to God the Spirit:
Great Jehovah, Three in One!
While eternal ages run!
Glory be to him who loved us,
Washed us from each spot and stain;
Glory be to him who bought us,
Made us kings with him to reign!
To the Lamb that once was slain!
He had learned that hymn at his school. As the child played with his Legos, a bit of eternity broke into sound with those sacred words in praise of the Lord.
Emily began our day today by asking to sing to me, something she often does. She learns songs in choir and in chapel, and wants to sing them. She started to sing.
The King of love my Shepherd is,
Whose goodness faileth never,
I nothing lack if I am His
And He is mine forever.
She doesn’t know it now, but she will someday be so glad that treasure is in her memory bank. These words put to melody are a great comfort no matter what life brings. They give you songs in the night.
I heard the bells at twilight all those years ago, and I recognized the hymn. These grand old tunes and words lift our hearts and heads, unite us with those who have gone on before us and point us to our faithful Lord. This is true treasure we can pass on to our children.