The Hymns In My Head

July 20, 2020
by   —   Audio controls are below the devotional to listen to this devotional or to hymn music while you read

Isaiah 35:10 – And the ransomed of the Lord shall return and come to Zion with singing, and everlasting joy shall be upon their heads; they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away. (AMPC)

I was hosting a seniors' cable show with others, awhile back. Someone had asked an elderly gospel quartet to come down and be interviewed. They were called The Old Hims, since that was mostly what they sang. The four men had a great sense of humour, which is a tremendous help when mishaps occur. I was late that day and came rushing into our prep room, out of breath. I slipped on something and smacked into a wall a few feet away. As I lay there, trying to recover my dignity, I looked up. Peering down on me with quizzical expressions, heads together and in complete harmony, The Old Hims were going, "Hmmmmmmmmm?"

Like them, I usually have a hymn in my head, stored there till I need it, over the years. Lately, I've decided to start any message to a believer with whatever hymn is singing to me through any particular day. This morning, it was Edward Hopper's Jesus, Saviour, pilot me. This regular experience provides me with the spiritual comfort that the old songs give, especially the ones dealing with troubles and trials as expected occurrences in our spiritual journey towards home.

If I were the only person ever to have obstacles, suffering, questions, struggles, doubts, injustice, temptations, testings, difficulties, sorrows, and unhappiness — the list of awful goes on forever — then there wouldn't be so many songs about keeping on, despite the pain, our spiritual touchstone. Someone said, "How do you know you're on the right path? Because it's always uphill!" And there's a hymn for that: John W. Peterson's It's not an easy road.

Even with new tech enabling us to type any hymn title into some device and hear it sung back to us, I still tote around a print version: Ira D. Sankey's pocket-sized Sacred songs and solos – Twelve hundred hymns, from early in the previous century.

While it's great to have new songs and hymns, it's the old ones that I turn to — music that has walked so many generations through the deep waters, through the dark vales when the sunlight is gone. Old hymns are our cadence, marking our steps as we follow in His footsteps today, sharing, with all the angels and saints, hope and joy despite the darkness.

Isaiah 14:7 – The whole earth is at rest and is quiet; they break forth into singing. (AMPC)

Prayer: Dear Father, when through the deep waters You call us to go, trials dark on every hand, may our songs abound and every tear be dry as we see, by Your excellent Word, that the rivers of sorrow will not overflow us and that our deepest distress has been sanctified to us through Your all-sufficient grace. Hold us safe in the cleft of the rock under Your wings, with the everlasting arms holding us up forever. Amen.


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About the author:

Rose DeShaw <rise370@gmail.com>
Kingston, Ontario, Canada

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1 Comment

  • PresbyCan Feedback says:

    Amen, Rose.


    I love this, Rose. I keep learning new things about you all the time. A seniors’ cable show?!


    Thanks for sharing Rose.
    Comforting devotional.
    God bless you.


    Thank you, Rose, for sharing this devotional with us. May we go on singing the songs in our hearts and heads. Blessings.


    You’re right, the hymns are so comforting Rose. I really miss singing them at church, but we at least get to hear the music. Blessings to you!


    Good morning, Rose. One of my favourites is Dear Lord and Saviour of mankind, forgive our foolish ways.
    My grandmother sang Brighten the Corner where you are; it still rings in my mind.


    Good morning Rose,
    Another good and encouraging and uplifting devotional and it is wonderful when hymns help us through the difficult times. May you have a great day of music.


    I really identified with this.
    I often find myself with walking around with hymns going through my head.
    Since we were boaters often in times of stress it is “Will your anchor hold?”
    Thanks for reminding me. I enjoyed your devotional.


    Oh, Rose, I’m with you on this one! I’ve been singing and playing the hymns for 70 years. My church still uses a hymnbook, thankfully and most Sundays I don’t need to look at it as the words are embedded in my brain. I love it when I find a scripture that matches a song…I write “song” next to it. You just gave me a new one, Isaiah 35:10’s song, Therefore the Redeemed of the Lord.
    That quartet must have been a joy.


    I could really relate to your message today. It seems I always have a hymn/praise song going through my head. Even when I wake in the night there’s one going through my head.
    Having sung in our church choir for over 30 years and then more recently on our Praise Team there’s a lot of music in my brain.
    I also use some of my favourites in my daily devotions every morning. Music lifts my spirit and draws me close to God.
    Blessings to you. Have a good week and stay safe.


    Well Rose, I too have hymns (or anthems we taught the kids’ choirs) buzzing through my head frequently as well.
    Yesterday, we had a weather alert about a possible Tornado In our ‘area’. As I took my lunch and iPad down to the basement, I heard the chorus to “Till the Storm Passes By” playing in my head. After finding a copy of it, I headed to the piano and attempted to play it as I read over the words for each verse. I had peace in the midst of the ‘storm’ that was brewing outdoors. (I had forgotten, however, what the words to the last vs said but as I read them, tears flowed as they too touched me deeply!). By the time I returned upstairs, the rain had stopped, and the ‘storm’ had passed by!
    Blessings on you as you continue to share devotionals with us!


    Thank you for your devotional reminding us of the significance of having a hymnal or two. I’m sure that you are probably older than 70 as churches don’t even have hymnals that they sing from anymore. In my favorite hymnal I looked up the six hymns that it had of John W. Peterson, and I especially liked the one, “No One Understands like Jesus.” I have been listening to contemporary songs in the church we attend, and I can’t think of a title or remember any of the songs to sing, and we have no source to know who wrote them or a good way of reviewing them. I guess we have to recognize that changes continue to take place, and yet I believe we need to have a balance. Thanks for raising our appreciation of the hymns that have stood the test of time, and the Lord has used them for centuries.


    Dear Rose:
    I am always delighted to discover that you have written the devotional. I know it will be food for my soul and a blessing! I am in my 70’s and am forever singing the old hymns. I remember my mum in the kitchen singing There Is Sunshine in my Soul Today and When We All Get To Heaven, and many others. I remember hearing my dad’s tenor voice in the church choir and listening to our old record player play his hymn collection. We children were practically raised in the Baptist Church where our extended family all attended – Sunday School, Church, and various choirs. Young People’s on Friday evenings. Then, off to Bible College. And the results of all this? All four of us walk with our Lord, as do our families. My granddaughter went to a Bible University and became a missionary. ALL BY HIS GRACE!!!
    Keep on singing, Rose, and keep on writing. He has a crown awaiting you, and knowing you from your writing, I suspect that in humility, you will lay it at His feet.
    See you up there!


    Thank you Rose for this devotional. I too always have a hymn or a song in my head, I go to sleep with one and wake up with one.
    You started this with a verse that was made into a short chorus Therefore the Redeemed of the Lord shall return and come with singing unto Zion, and everlasting joy shall be upon their heads. (repeat)
    They shall obtain, gladness and joy, and sorrow and mourning shall flee away (then back into the above).
    I have always found that scripture put to music helps it to stick in our minds and hearts.
    I am the lead singer at our church and when we started, we were singing mostly the popular praise songs. I am happy to say I have been able to bring back more of the hymns. Praise songs have their place but honestly the hymns have more substance. I also find that the praise songs are more about us and how we feel, whereas the hymns are more focused on God and who He is.
    In any case, Thank you for this devotional.


    Thanks again for your scriptures and reference to hymns.


    I know what you mean. I always have a song playing in my soul! Wonderful isn’t it! Sometimes it gets stuck missing a word and I go to YouTube to help me out.


    Love it Rose
    One of my favourite things is to sing along with the hymn attached to the devotional.
    Have learned some that way too.


    Good morning Rose
    Good devotional. I must say in my activities at the local long-term care centre the “Old” hymns were always the most asked for. I always feel inspired when we sing the old hymns, so many of them are little sermons all by themselves and they speak to our hearts more so than the ‘New” ones, at least that is what I think. it might have something to do with my age.
    Thank you for writing.


    Another beautiful Devotional! Thank you!!!
    The hymns we grew up with are so meaningful to us and will never leave our heads! We both love that hymn!!
    Even though there is some controversary about it, it is so comforting and meaningful. “He walks with me and He talks with me………”
    Thank you again for your inspirational words of truth and the music we all love!
    Love and Blessings.

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