Familarity Makes Sense of the Scary: David Schwoebel on Notes from Susie

David Schwoebel, Minister of Music and Composer

David Schwoebel, Minister of Music and Composer

Most of us are unique creatures of habit - same favorite morning drink to get us going, preferred piece of exercise equipment at the gym, consistent taste buds and regular eating schedules, etc. The sense of routine both grounds us and gives comforting stability to our chaotic lives. At times, life’s consistent, mindless patterns can cause us to do things by rote without a deepening thought of why we do them or what we can truly gain from them. Thoughtless routine can also apply to our hymn singing.

Those who have sung the hymns of our faith for many years have indeed enriched their Christian walk in a grand way! The routine of singing hymns shapes and centers us in our core beliefs. However, most of us could confess to being distracted, at least once, to absentmindedly bellowing out a tune without a true, intelligent connection to the rich, sustaining text being sung. When life’s significant challenges enter our lives we yearn to return to the comfortable, familiar routine and dig even deeper in our faith experiences. Familiarity helps us make sense of scary, unknown concerns. In those sullen, dark moments, hymns of our faith offer us a refreshing perspective and much needed encouragement. An inspired, insightful text, riding on a beloved melody, can sharpen our awareness of the rich theology and profound thoughts we have sung all our lives. Susie and Mark Edwards found these things to be true. 

With their intense love for and knowledge of hymnody, and a totally open ministry spirit, Mark and Susie provided my family, along with the Derbyshire Chancel Choir, a “ringside seat” to their daily walk during Susie’s illness. The old and new hymn texts they chose to close their daily postings were wonderfully poignant and most revealing of their faithful pilgrimage. Many days, without its companion tune attached, the texts shared were viewed from a completely different angle than all the years of singing ever provided. To this day, those groundbreaking realizations re-enter our minds when we sing those hymns. I believe such refreshing revelations are one of the many hallmark artistic beauties and true strengths of God-inspired hymnody. The Christian’s song is never irrelevant and continually offers an enriching experience to each who will routinely mine its deep riches!  

David Schwoebel
Minister of Music and Composer in Residence
Derbyshire Baptist Church, Richmond, VA