I wrote my first hymn in 1979, but then went on a hymn hiatus for thirty years. Later in life I started writing “remix hymns”—resetting old hymn lyrics in new tunes and rhythms. Now, forty years after my first hymn, I’m returning to that early impetus and learning the craft of writing hymns to be sung by the body of Christ. The hymn in classical Greek (hymnos) is a celebratory song of praise to a god, hero, or conqueror. In Scripture, that praise and honor is directed to our Creator God. A hymn is not limited by musical form. A hymn is known by its purpose, not by its structure.
Lyrics: Click on the linked song title in the text box to open a lyric PDF in a separate window.
ARISE AND SING - This hymn was written for an Eastertide concert in 2019. I had also written “The Rising Day” for that concert, and the idea of rising to sing as the people of God celebrating the risen Christ came to mind. I was pleasantly surprised to find no other hymns written for the same title. The four verses of this hymn celebrate the risen Jesus as Savior, Victor, King, and God.
HOLY IS THE LORD - This is among the first of the “remix hymns” that I began writing in the oughties. It is a re-tuned version of the classic hymn “Holy, Holy, Holy” with an added chorus to emphasize the concept of the trinity. I wrote it in 6/8 time using drop D on the guitar for a more contemporary acoustic style. The original, with its majestic melody and chords, is still the best.
HEAVEN IS MY HOME - (Live performance, Joel on piano) Reading old hymnals is challenging. Bad hymns were as prevalent in the 1800s as shallow praise songs are now. But the lyrics to Thomas Taylor’s 1836 hymn, “I Am But a Stranger Here,” were clean and clear and just waiting for a modern acoustic re-tuning. The performance is a bit rough, but I hope I’ve done justice with his words.
GRACE UPON GRACE - This is my first official hymn, from my 1979 album “Clay in the Potter’s Hand,” inspired by John’s words about Jesus, “For of His fullness we have all received, and grace upon grace” (John 1:16). Sound and vocal quality issues aside, I thought it should be here, too. God’s grace is one of those inexhaustible concepts of Scripture that just keeps giving and giving.
SONGS IN QUEUE
Sing We Alleluia
Heaven Is My Home
Nothing But the Blood