Singing unto the Lord
To satisfy my curiosity, I went through three complete years of liturgy notes to see what hymns we actually sang at EFUMC. So far as my records can be understood, I find printed evidence of no less than 156
different songs being sung in worship. Those are mostly from the United Methodist Hymnal, but EFUMC also uses The Faith We Sing; plus, I sometimes reach back into the old Book of Hymns or even use stuff from elsewhere.
Anyway, the benchline is 156 different songs. Many Christmas and Easter songs show up every year, but only at those times of year. None of them were used more than three times in that three year period. Of all the rest, here are the most frequently used hymns in the period studied.
Two songs were sung nine times: Amazing Grace; Blest Be the Tie that Binds.
Two songs were sung eight times: To God be the Glory, Great Things He Hath Done; Marching to Zion.
Three songs were sung seven times: Great is thy Faithfulness; O Jesus, I have promised; All who hunger.
Five songs were sung six times: Spirit Song; The Gift of Love; Spirit of God, Descend Upon My Heart; Christ for the World We Sing; God be with you till we meet again.
Nine songs were sung five times: Joyful, joyful, we adore thee; The Lord's my Shepherd, I'll not want; Praise to the Lord, the Almighty; Come, ye sinners, poor and needy; Come, thou fount of every blessing; Be thou my vision; The Church's One Foundation; Here I Am, Lord; His Eye is On the Sparrow.
Thirteen songs were sung four times: O Worship the King; Holy, Holy, Holy; For the beauty of the earth; We gather together; This is my Father's world; When morning gilds the skies; Fairest Lord Jesus; Take my life and let it be; Pass It On; I know whom I have believed; On Jordan's stormy banks I stand; My life flows on; I'll fly away.
Those are all the hymns which we sang more than once a year, on average. There are 34 of them. If we were to take the "top twenty," as some worship gurus suggest, we'd only take those we sang five or more times, of which there are twenty-one.
And so, I ask myself: what would be gained, and what would be lost, if we mostly restricted ourselves to those 21 hymns (other than for Christmas and Easter)?