This post is the first of a new series considering traditional hymns in contemporary worship. Each week we will consider a traditional hymn and connect it with a contemporary worship song. The connection may be through lyrics, scriptural references, historical or current cultural, political, and religious conflict, performing artists or musical performances.
All Worship is Contemporary
All worship is contemporary. From the liturgy of the Mass to the most casual contemporary service, Christians gather in worship. We praise God, offer thanks, confess our sins, pray, preach, and hear the Word of God illumined. And we sing! Worship connects us and encourages us to live our faith in the world.
Pandemic with Racial and Political Discord
Racial and political discord rack the United States. Concurrently, we suffer through a pandemic that keeps Christians from physically worshiping together.
Traditional and Contemporary-
What Can We Sing?
What can we sing? Here are some clues. First, this hymn is distinctly American. Second, its words express a desire shared by all true believers. Third, both its author and composer are unknown. Fourth, its music contains elements of jazz. Fifth, it is both traditional and contemporary. Sixth, it is associated with New Orleans and jazz funeral processions. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jazz_funeral
Can you name this hymn? The title is in the refrain, but here is the first stanza.
Lyrics of a Great Traditional & Contemporary Hymn
I am weak but Thou art strong,
Jesus keep me from all wrong.
I’ll be satisfied as long
As I walk, let me walk close to Thee.
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Got it yet? Ok, before the refrain, here are the second and third stanzas.
Stanzas 2 & 3
Through this world of toil and snares,
If I falter, Lord, who cares?
Who with me my burden shares?
None but Thee, dear Lord, none but Thee.
When my feeble life is o’er,
Time for me will be no more.
Guide me gently, safely o’er
To Thy kingdom’s shore, to Thy shore.
And now, the refrain.
Just a closer walk with Thee,
Grant it, Jesus, is my plea.
Daily walking close to Thee
Let it be, dear Lord, let it be.
Click the link below and savor the incredible performance by Wynton Marsalis and his band with Eric Clapton. (The drum sequence in the middle suggests the prophecy of the dry bones from Ezekiel 37: 4&5. Then he said to me, Prophesy to these bones and say to them: O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord. Thus says the Lord God to these bones: I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live.) May it bring us together! Amen.