In drawing together content for the StF-inspired Methodist Church prayer card (Hymns for Personal Prayer), former StF Reference Group member Suzanne Johnson focussed on hymns that make a direct and personal address to God or God encountered in Jesus. In such hymns, the line between what makes a hymn text and what is a written prayer can become very thin indeed. Hymns that are compiled in books mainly for the benefit of gathered congregations can be re-discovered as intimate expressions of the life of faith appropriate for an individual to offer in personal prayer.
Kate and Miles Simmonds’ hymn, When I was lost, you came and rescued me (StF 367) is clearly written with the intention of being accompanied by music (“There is a new song in my mouth… a hymn of praise to Almighty God – hallelujah!”). But many will find that the highly personal nature of its two verses offers words that they want to offer to God in private.
Many other hymns, often written out of personal experience, refer to “me”, “my” or “mine” and work well as personal prayer (e.g. Take my life, and let it be consecrated, Lord, to thee, StF 566; O God, what offering shall I give, StF 562) As Suzanne says, very often we only need to add an address to God at the beginning of a text and we have an expressive prayer at hand. And, in many cases, even those few additional words are redundant, for instance in a number of hymns that that address God-as-Holy Spirit:
- Breathe on me, breath of God (StF 370)
- Come down, O love divine (StF 372)