Features, Highlights

Value of singing Methodist hymns underscored by Bishop, leaders

Bishop’s Lunch Fellowship with Lay Leaders

“It is important that we know and sing our Methodist hymns because they are so meaningful and rich in Wesleyan doctrine. Many of the younger members in our churches may not enjoy singing hymns, but we have to educate them on the importance of singing hymns and treasuring their doctrinal values.”

– Mr Lee Han Khim, Lay Leader of Grace Methodist Church.

ARE METHODISTS IN SINGAPORE FORGETTING the importance of their Wesleyan hymns, or are they simply losing interest in singing them? Are they giving up the rich heritage and doctrinal value of the hymns for the “more lively” beat of the contemporary songs?

These were some of the concerns raised at the biannual Bishop’s Lunch Fellowship with Lay Leaders at Sophia Blackmore Hall, Methodist Centre, on April 2. Questions were asked and there was plenty of interaction after Bishop Dr Robert Solomon gave his presentation of “Wesleyan Hymnody”.

His talk was interspersed with a quiz, given in parts, in which stanzas of Wesleyan hymns were flashed on the screen for the lay leaders to guess the titles and sing.

The Bishop reminded the leaders that Mr Yip Fook Yoon, Lay Leader of Trinity Methodist Church, summarising his group’s inputs during the plenary session.

Wesleyan hymns are rich in doctrine and devotion, and are vehicles for teaching and nurturing the Wesleyan Christian faith as well as for worshipping in spirit and truth. The best way to discover Methodist spirituality is to know and sing the Wesleyan hymns.

The hymns express a range of conditions of the soul that need to be transformed: Unbelief; sin, guilt, disgrace); roving passions and a wandering soul; vile affections, including lust, pride, wrath, anger, hate, jealousy; rebelliousness and self-will; barren souls; physical infirmity; sorrow, tears, gloominess, grief, death; heart; doubt, fear, helplessness).

On the devotional depth of the hymns, the Bishop said: “Consider the worship of ‘O For a Thousand Tongues to Sing’, or the spiritual struggle and surrender of ‘Come O Thou Traveller Unknown’.”

He pointed out that there is great poetry in the hymns, and as great poetry, they express sublime feelings in aesthetic language. In addition, they express the mission of the church There is also great music in the hymns, he said. Some of the best loved hymns in Christian history came from the Wesleyan revival. Musically, they are classics. These hymns have blessed many congregations through many generations.

Story by Peter Teo ■ Methodist Message pictures by Daniel Lie