Favorite hymn at Danville parish? It’s a tie!

DANVILLE — Making a “joyful noise” to the Lord has been a vital part of worship since ancient times. After all, the Psalms were written as hymns of praise to God.

To make that joy and participation as full as possible during liturgies at St. Paul’s Church, music director Jonathon Myers decided to poll parishioners to discover what their favorite hymns are. Voting took place over three weeks in August and he tabulated the lists he received last weekend.

“I just wanted to make sure the hymns we were singing were uplifting,” said Myers, 27, who grew up in the parish and started playing the organ for school Masses as an eighth-grader. His goal is “uniting people in giving glory to God.”

Parishioners suggested 41 hymns and two of them tied for first place: “Here I Am Lord” by Dan Schutte and “How Great Thou Art” by Stuart K. Hine. Songs by Father J. Michael Joncas took the next two spots, with “I Have Loved You” placing third and “On Eagle’s Wings” coming in fourth.

After that the most popular choices were: “Sing a New Song,” also written by Schutte; “Hail, Holy Queen Enthroned Above,” a well-loved Marian hymn; “Holy, Holy, Holy”; “Let There Be Peace on Earth”; “All Creatures of Our God and King” and “The King of Love My Shepherd Is.”

These songs will be among those featured at a “hymn sing” planned for this Sunday, Aug. 30, from 5 to 6 p.m., at St. Paul’s Church, 1303 N. Walnut. Anyone who loves hymns and wants to sing is welcome.

“We will sing 15 to 18 hymns with some history between each hymn,” said Myers. “A lot of people don’t know about the hymns and why we sing them.”

Father Greg Nelson, pastor, applauded Myers’ efforts to help people appreciate sacred music more — inside and outside of Mass.

“There are other times we can hear it and grow from it besides the liturgy,” he said, pointing to the concerts Myers gives during Advent and Lent that are designed to help parishioners slow down and reflect.

The “hymn sing” also will allow Myers to highlight the organ and foster a better understanding of what this instrument is capable of, according to Father Nelson.

“Through these kinds of things it’s easier for him to explain the features of the organ and what he’s doing,” Father Nelson said. “It’s hard to do that during the liturgy.”

In addition, organist and priest have been working to improve the instrument, which is being done slowly but surely. Hearing more about that will help parishioners understand why it is so important, Father Nelson said.

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