Favorite Hymn Night

In many fundamentalist churches there is a phenomenon known as “Favorites Night” which is code for “the pastor is taking the night off.” The bulk of these services consist of church members chortling in sadistic glee as they search the hymnbook for obscure songs in hopes of making the pianist lose her sanctification.

In aid of this noble goal of torturing the accompanist, the well-versed fundamentalists can consult the handy Index of Songs By Meter found in the back of the hymnal and select something like “What Hath the Lord Done for Thee?” in 7/12 meter. Pianists love it when people do that. They laugh and laugh.

Favorites night is also a great time to dust off one of the following favorite numbers of leather-lunged fundies everywhere:

– Wonderful Grace of Jesus
– The Awakening Chorus (if you’re a PCC grad)
– The Church In The Wildwood
– Son of a Preacher Man

Throw in a few minutes of Testimony Time and the pastor can rest easy until next week. Men on the First, Ladies on the Second, and All together on the last!

70 thoughts on “Favorite Hymn Night”

  1. @pastor’s wife: Thanks for the book recommendations! The library has Joni Eareckson Tada’s book, so I’ll definitely have to check it out next time I’m there. I remember back in high school reading The Last Battle and absolutely loving the description of the “real Narnia” in the last chapter. At the time I felt almost heretical for loving that description more than all the sermons and Sunday School lessons I’d ever heard on golden streets, mansions, etc.

  2. @ Amanda, you’re welcome! Hope you enjoy “Heaven” as much as I did. I agree with you about “The Last Battle” too. I cried when Aslan closed the door on Narnia only to be overjoyed when the children found “the real Narnia”! Lewis doesn’t get too specific, but the whole idea of “higher up and further in” was exciting to me, the idea that there are deeper and fuller joys ahead. The further in you go the more beauties are revealed. A mom once wrote to Lewis that her little boy was worried that he loved Aslan more than Jesus. This link gives the details: http://www.spu.edu/depts/uc/response/spring2k6/features/aslan.asp

  3. Oh, the Awakening Chorus… I was known as the Awakening Chorus girl for a hot while at the campus…

  4. Am I the only one who remembers these nights being called “Singspiration”s? Gah, I can’t even say that “word” anymore without shuddering….

  5. Your churches didn’t have “Victory in Jesus” requested at every favorites night? While the chorus has words I like, that song has always irritated me, especially musically. There are a few hymns that sound like they’re being sung with a really hick-like southern accent, and “Victory in Jesus” is one of them (also included is “Look and Live,” probably mostly based on an experience with the choir in my grandmother’s Tennessee church).

  6. @Michelle, for a time I attended a Victory Baptist Church. Guess which song we opened with EVERY single Sunday morning.

  7. I hope that your sarcasm is somewhat tongue-in-cheek, and an attempt at humour. After about 40 years of ministry, both as a pastor and a musician, I do find it somewhat distasteful. I have conducted many Community Hymn Sings, and led many congregations in times of calling for requests, or favourites. It’s a way of covering some beloved songs that perhaps have been neglected for awhile. I’ve never known individuals to suggest obscure and difficult hymns just to make the pianist sweat. (If it did happen, I might suggest the person sing it for us as an a cappella solo!)

  8. I hope that your sarcasm is somewhat tongue-in-cheek, and an attempt at humour.

    I certainly hope so too.

  9. Oh, we totally tried to find obscure songs. And I’m quite guilty of the “Church in the Wildwood” one. 😀 Also, the only Gaither song in the hymnal was always requested.

  10. M, you’d have been pleased to know that we sang “Praise God from Whom All Blessings Flow” in Sunday service and I was instantly transported back to PCC. 🙂 (except, in my mind, there was a class bell that went off just before I stood up)

  11. Unfortunately in my IFB church, Sunday night favorite hymns are followed by the normal 50 minutes of getting yelled at. Of course all of it meant to be an “encouragement”.

  12. In my Southern Baptist church (yeah, I know, I must be a stinkin’ liberal) we had a great crazy hymn written during the 70s called “God of Earth and Outer Space” (Baptist Hymnal 1975 Ed.). We stopped singing the really contemporary verse about the astronauts hurling thru space” around the time of the Challenger disaster.

    I also loved leading “Since Jesus Came into My Heart”, and yelling out the cue line for the third verse, “I’m possessed! (…of a hope that is steadfast and sure…). Always got a few funny looks?

  13. @Darren- “The Jerricho Road”…Yes!! If it’s the same one I’m thinking of I had to LOL. I actually had a recording of a gospel quartet singing that when I was a kid.

    “On the Jerricho Road there is room for just two! …Just Jesus and Me…”


  14. Lead your own Singspiration! Here’s how: Follow this simple formula for a story before each hymn.

    “On a cold morning in 18xx, (Farmer, Pastor, General)X had just learned some terrible news. Three of his children had just been carried off by the Union army. His remaining daughter had scarlet fever. His wife had fallen down a well two years earlier and he had the daily task of dropping a loaf of bread down to her each day.
    To make that bread he had to grind a handful of grain that he harvested from the remains of his failed crop. The dog was also looking very nauseous.

    With the one hand he left following his horrific ice cream churn accident he sat down to a breakfast of tepid gruel and scratched out the words to the poem that would one day be set to music by an improbably prolific handicapped song writer to give us the hymn we know today as “I the Worm Doth Travail in Gladness (Smite Me Again, I Like It.)”

    Change a detail or two for each story, be sure to make’em sing all the verses just to prove how Fundies don’t just sing 1,2, and 4.

  15. Dr BJJr loved good scriptural hymns. When I attended, he would have us sing the same hymn several times at subsequent chapel services until we KNEW IT. Why he did not WGoJ, I know not, but I still appreciate his good choice of Christian music.
    Izzy (a pseudonym, if I ever saw one!)

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