The final step of the selection process for the 2008 Baptist Hymnal was one of the richest experiences of my life. This select group of leaders, that included my predecessor Jim Gibson, assembled all the work of the various committees and made the final decisions on the title list of the 674 hymns and songs now in the hymnal.
The committee forced two on me – numbers 505 and 264. You’ll have to look them up to see why they insisted they be included. I relented.
But I forced one on them. I started our first meeting of the final stage of selection by saying, “I’m playing the director card on one song. There is one title that I am placing in the list without discussion.”
I love every version of the song I’ve ever heard, including this year’s version featuring Carrie Underwood. It is stunning. And I think it is awesome that the song is being heard again, this year, in a fresh way by such a wonderful voice.
But the reason I played the “Director card” to include it in our new hymnal was because of how important the song is for everyone to sing. I believe it could well be our generation’s “Silent Night,” and it is important that our children and grandchildren learn to sing it. Why do a new hymnal if there aren’t important songs to capture for future generations?
So why is this song so important to me? Because it is a beautiful, well crafted song about the incarnation of our Savior – because it is simple in structure and lyric, yet profound in meaning. And because it expresses the implications of Emmanuel in a very simple phrase with meaning that is so significant, the heart can ponder it for hours after singing it.
“Born is our Lord and Savior.”
Mike Harland is the Director of LifeWay Worship. When he’s not directing 30+ employees, you’ll find him leading worship at various churches around the country, writing/arranging worship songs and/or, writing his next book. In his spare time, he loves playing basketball and spending time with his family. Mike can be found on Twitter @MikeHarlandLW and on facebook.com/Mike.Harland.37.