The answer is almost always, yes! So we then compare notes.
The tunes we report playing in our memories are most often a stanza from a favorite hymn or gospel song and quite often one we may have sung in church during our childhood. We find making the comparisons fun.
She and I experience these songs differently. In her memory Kathleen sings the words to herself. For me, it is more like a choir singing in the distance and I am the listener.
Yesterday Kathleen told me her song reached back to Sunday School in her early years, and that she couldn’t recall having sung it in ages. It was from that little song about God’s care for the sparrow. The refrain goes:
He loves me too!
He loves me too!
I know He loves me too.
Because he loves the little birds,
I know he loves me too.
It’s a confident, happy little piece, assuring the singer that we are loved by God.
In the Saskatchewan church of my childhood we sang without instrumental accompaniment but some worshipers were able to sing alto, tenor or bass. The singing seemed to fill the small sanctuary.
It was similar for Kathleen in Niagara Falls, Ontario, where she grew up. The Sunday Evening services in both of our churches featured lots of congregational singing.
It has been said that the early Methodists learned their theology through their hymns. Now these two aging Methodists find our songs and their lyrics bless us today. And we continue to review and deepen our theology in this way.
Take, for example the following stanza from Charles Wesley’s, theology-rich, O For A Thousand Tongues to Sing:
He breaks the power of canceled sin,
He sets the prisoner free;
His blood can make the foulest clean;
His blood availed for me.
“Canceled sin?” That’s justification. “Prisoner?” Our fallen nature makes us captive to sin. “Sets the prisoner free?” That’s regeneration by the Holy Spirit. “His blood?” That’s the atoning ground for our salvation. “For me?” The efficacy of the blood of Christ is personally claimed.
In our troubled times we need faith-renewing, soul-nurturing songs playing quietly in our heads often, even much of the time. The world otherwise seems raucous and ridden with conflict.
To counter this clamor with silent music may take concentrated effort at the start, but Kathleen and I would say cultivating the habit is abundantly worthwhile.
Photo credit: Melissa Himpe (via flickr.com)