I was out of town this Sunday. It was a special joy to go to California and work with a Christian school on their high school play production.

Hymns with an Irish Flavor

Since it was Saint Patrick’s Day, I chose hymns with an Irish flavor. We began the service with “In Christ Alone.” Keith and Kristyn Getty are from Ireland, although they work mostly out of Nashville now. This hymn is a wonderful example of modern hymn writing at its best. The tune is memorable and sing-able. And the text conveys profound spiritual truth. Our next hymn was “What a Friend We Have in Jesus.” Joseph Scriven wrote this poem to his mother back in Ireland to be an encouragement to her when she was ill. The final hymn of the day was “Be Thou My Vision.” Considered the perfect marriage of tune and text, this song has blessed many believers through the centuries.

But Why These Particular Tunes?

Though there are other Irish texts and tunes we could have sung. I chose these three for a couple reasons. First, my congregation knows them really well. Since I was out of town, I wanted to be sure we sang familiar songs.

Second, they represent the modern, the old-fashioned, and the ancient. The first hymn was published in 2002. The second hymn was written in 1855. And the last hymn was written as early as the 8th century! Though some scholars date it as late as the 9th or 10th centuries, it is still very old. So, not only were we singing hymns touched by the Emerald Isle, but we were reinforcing the truth that our church is not chronologically prejudiced. That is, we sing old songs and new songs with equal enthusiasm—as long as they are GOOD songs!


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