Hymn By Hymn: Introduction

Why this, why now?

I realized that I feel most connected to myself when I take up a special project as a spiritual practice – something with a particular scope and time limit. I’ve previously spent a year studying a particular pantheon, or spiritual path, or in the case of my 50th year, the project that was My Year of Jubilee.

Why Hymns?

I put out a call for ideas on Facebook, and my colleague Heather Petit suggested singing a hymn a day. It seemed perfect – hymns are almost second nature, but to walk through them all – familiar and unfamiliar – with intention? That sounds amazing.

How long will this take?

Originally, I was seeking something I could do for a year, but I realized that if I am to do the project justice, I need to sing every hymn in both hymnals, even the one-verse offerings for Old Hundredth.

Will it get weird?

Absolutely. I’ll be singing Christmas carols in late spring. Sometimes we sing the same lyrics to two different tunes (Light of Ages and of Nations, Amazing Grace).

What will I do each day?

First I will sing the hymn – if I know it, it’ll be easy. I will also turn to online resources and musician friends to help with those I don’t. Then… I’ll write.

What will I cover in each day’s post?

First will be the lyrics – then, who knows? I plan to reflect on what strikes me – experience of singing, theological reflections, personal memories, and who knows what else – this is perhaps the beauty of a spiritual practice with several boundaries (frequency, order, process) – a great amount of freedom within the structure.

What do I hope for you, the reader?

On one level, it will hopefully become a resource. But on another, who knows. It might be that I bore everyone, including myself. But it will be an adventure of some sort.

Thanks for coming on the adventure with me.


  1. About 25 years ago, when my daughter was very young, I would sing one hymn each night at bedtime, and then together we would “rate” it. We used a quirky system that developed as we went, so I have a hymnal with checks, checks with a plus or two, stars and double or triple stars. She drew her first star ever on “Bright Morning Stars.” This is the hymnal in my office, and it’s always useful whenever I’m selecting hymns for worship.

    Someone just recommended this part of the blog to me, so I look forward to checking it out!


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