Music is one of the main ways that we can worship God, and this can be incorporated into music practice. Today I will be giving you ideas on ways to go deeper when practicing hymns.
1. Learn the words.
Not only should we be learning to play hymns, but we should also be learning the words. The old hymns have beautiful words that are inspiring and encourage us in our walk with God.
You may need to work on this when you aren’t actually playing your instrument, but you could still include it in your practice time.
2. Sing while you play.
When you know the words to the hymns you are playing, you can sing along as you practice. Of course you will mainly want to sing along when you are getting better at playing the songs since it’s hard to focus on both singing and figuring out a new song at the same time.
Singing as you play turns normal routine practice time into a time of worshiping the Lord.
3. Think about the words as you play.
I know not everyone can sing and play at the same time. A lot of it depends on the instrument. I can play guitar and sing, but I can’t play flute and sing. It’s just not possible.
So if you play an instrument that doesn’t allow you to sing along, think about the words as you are playing it.
Even sometimes when I could be singing, I prefer thinking about the words. It seems I get more out of them thinking about them and thinking about the truths they contain and how they apply to me.
4. Look up the hymn story.
Oftentimes we can better understand a hymn when we know the story behind it, the events that led to its writing. The hymn that comes to my mind when discussing this is “It Is Well.”
It’s a beautiful hymn, but it takes on even more meaning when we realize the author wrote it after the tragic death of his four daughters.
There are various books of hymn stories as well as different internet sources for finding the story behind a hymn. As you are practicing hymns , you can look up the hymn stories and see what circumstances prompted them to be written.
You will probably learn some interesting things, like the story of the unfinished poem Frances Ridley Havergal threw in the fire, only to have it fall out unburned, the poem that later became the hymn “I Gave My Life For Thee.”
Thank you to my friend Grace, who gave me this suggestion that prompted me to write this blog-post.
5. Research the author.
This activity is related to looking up the hymn story. It’s always nice to know more about the people who wrote our hymns.
Sometimes you might learn they weren’t as much of a role model as you would expect, but often you learn about a Godly man or woman who was dedicated to serving the Lord.
And sometimes you learn interesting bits, such as the story of the hymn writer who was a school teacher and often taught while his pet bat was perched on his shoulder.
6. Look up related Bible verses.
Many hymns are based off Bible verses. Some hymn books will give these verses, but if they don’t, then read the hymn for yourself and see what verses it brings to mind. Psalm 46 was Martin Luther’s inspiration when he wrote “A Mighty Fortress.”
As you are practicing hymns, look up the related Bible verses and think about them. Think about how they apply to you and your situation.
7. Play in family devotions.
This isn’t necessarily a practice activity, but I thought I would throw it in anyway. Our families are usually our biggest supporters, so playing in front of them is a helpful way to get used to playing in front of an audience.
They won’t typically care if we make mistakes, so playing hymns in family devotions is a good activity to incorporate. Your family can sing along, and you can get some extra practice in.
8. Do the Monthly Melody.
Over on my sister’s blog is the Monthly Melody feature. She assigns a less common hymn for us to learn together. One way you could participate in it is by learning to play the hymn on whatever instrument you play. And while you practice it, you could learn and sing the words and incorporate some of the other activities.
There are so many ways that we can use our practice time as an opportunity to worship the Lord. Instead of being boring or mundane, it can become a time of spiritual refreshment and growth.
So what other activities do you have to add for practicing hymns? Are there any of these that you already do? Would you like me to go into more detail on any of these in a future blogpost? Let me know in the comments!