Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year

It is New Year's Eve, a secular holiday that the church hardly seems to notice. Can you think of a single hymn that is appropriate for the start of the new calendar year? We consider the church year to begin with Advent, but even then there aren't many tunes for the change in calendar. Perhaps that is a purposeful symbol of God's unchanging and timeless nature.

It also marks a change in the relationship of the church to our everyday lives. We no longer have a hymn to mark every occasion the way that many old hymnals did. In my inherited and collected stack of old hymnals there seem to be tunes and texts for every occasion - from a new home to the birth of a child. There are songs praying for safe travel, thanks for a good school year, and of course hymns for weddings, baptisms, and funerals. These hymns have fallen away in favor of hymns that are more generally theological and appropriate to worship because we no longer make our own music and sing our own hymns every day.

Tonight, many of us will sing Auld Lang Syne and hear plenty of rock music. Take a moment to thank God and offer prayers for a good year to come. Here is one hymn text on the topic for this night:

The old year now hath passed away;
We thank Thee, oh our God, today
That Thou hast kept us through the year
When danger and distress were near.
Oh, help us to forsake all sin,
A new and holier course begin!
Mark not what once was done amiss;
A happier, better year be this!


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