Why You Should Sing Old-Timey Hymns at Church

We are starting a new series for our Sunday services called “FAQ” (frequently asked questions about Christianity), and the topic yesterday was “What Happens When We Die?”  Appropriately, we sang this great old song called “To Canaan’s Land I’m On My Way (written in 1914).  A teaching recording is below that I threw together for our team (it goes through each part, SATB, and then how they all sound together).  It was great!  Even though a good chunk of the audience had probably never heard the song, you could clearly see everyone singing out, and you could really hear the voice of the church on that song.

Which brings me to my point.  These old songs are just well-designed for congregational participation.  You can catch on to them right away.  Don’t get me wrong, I love new contemporary worship songs (our service yesterday also included “Alive” by Hillsong Young and Free and “How Can it Be” by Lauren Diagle, for example).  I’m all for including songs like that in the line up.  But it is refreshing to have portions of the singing where we just back off the instruments (and even the microphones) and listen to the church.  And some of the newer contemporary songs take the church about 4 or 5 times hearing/singing them before they really “get” them to the point of being able to really participate.  (“Oceans,” for example, is now a church favorite but took us singing it about 5 times before you could start to hear people singing out.)

As far as placement in the service, coming out some silent meditation for communion we did one of my newer songs, “The Other Side” (which is a kind of gospel-ish tune), and then after that we picked up the tempo and the energy by going straight into “To Canaan’s Land I’m On My Way,” stomping and singing this good old-timey song before the lesson.

Anyway, here is the teaching recording of the tune and a PDF of the sheet music.  Give it a try!

To Canaan’s Land – teaching recording


To Canaan’s Land I’m On My Way – sheet music

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