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13 January 2005 — How Can I Keep From Singing? (11)

Last summer the extended Gingerich family recorded a CD of their best-loved hymns. Though I'm no longer a Christian, I love this music. It feels like home.

Here are some of my favorites in mp3 format. (You can download by right-clicking and selecting "save as", or you can probably listen to them in your web browser simply by clicking the links.)

Praise to the Lord the Almighty

Praise to the Lord, the Almighty, the King of creation!
O my soul, praise Him, for He is thy health and salvation!
All ye who hear, now to God's temple draw near;
Join me in glad adoration.

Praise to the Lord, Who over all things so wondrously reigneth,
Shelters thee under His wings, yea, so gently sustaineth!
Hast thou not seen how thy heart's wishes have been
Granted in what He ordaineth?

Praise to the Lord, Who doth prosper thy work and defend thee;
Surely His goodness and mercy here daily attend thee.
Ponder anew what the Almighty can do,
As with His love He befriends thee.

Praise to the Lord, O let all that is in me adore Him!
All that hath life and breath, come now with praises before Him.
Let the Amen sound from God's people again,
Let me forever adore Him.

Many of these songs feature one or more of the Gingeriches as soloists. For example, the following song, a beautiful ethereal ballad, features Jeremy's sister, Jennifer, her voice perfectly suited to this material.

Beautiful Savior

Fair are the meadows, fair are the woodlands,
Robed in flowers of blooming spring;
Jesus is fairer, Jesus is purer;
He makes our sorrowing spirit sing.

Beautiful Savior, Lord of the nations,
Son of God and Son of Man!
Glory and honor, Praise, adoration,
Now and forevermore be Thine!

The soloists on this CD are excellent, but so is the entire family choir. The following song reminds me of how my own extended family used to sing at family gatherings. I was too young to know any of the hymns, but I can remember my Aunt Virginia and her girls (even Tammy!) singing songs such as this:

Wonderful Grace of Jesus

Wonderful grace of Jesus,
Greater than all my sin;
How shall my tongue describe it,
Where shall its praise begin?
Taking away my burden,
Setting my spirit free;
For the wonderful grace of Jesus reaches me.

Wonderful the matchless grace of Jesus,
Deeper than the mighty rolling sea;
Higher than the mountains, sparkling like a fountain,
Holds sufficient grace for even me.
Broader than the scope of my transgressions,
Greater far than all my sin and shame,
O magnify the precious Name of Jesus.
Praise His Name!

Wonderful grace of Jesus,
Reaching to all the lost,
By it I have been pardoned,
Saved to the uttermost,
Chains have been torn asunder,
Giving me liberty;
For the wonderful grace of Jesus reaches me.


Wonderful grace of Jesus,
Reaching the most defiled,
By its transforming power,
Making him Godís dear child,
Purchasing peace and heaven,
For all eternity;
And the wonderful grace of Jesus reaches me.


When I first listened to this CD I was disappointed that there weren't more hymns that I knew. It hasn't taken me long to get to know these hymns, however. Some of them are beautiful:

Softly and Tenderly

Softly and tenderly Jesus is calling,
Calling for you and for me;
See, on the portals He's waiting and watching,
Watching for you and for me.

Come home, come home
Come home, come home
Ye who are weary, come home
Earnestly, tenderly, Jesus is calling,
Calling, O sinner, come home!

Why should we tarry when Jesus is pleading,
Pleading for you and for me?
Why should we linger and heed not his mercies,
Mercies for you and for me?


O for the wonderful love He has promised,
Promised for you and for me!
Though we have sinned, He has mercy and pardon,
Pardon for you and for me.


It's amazing how many of the Gingeriches of this generation (all of Jeremy's many cousins) share a love for music. Julian teaches voice lessons in Goshen. Nicole plays violin. Kari is a member of Portland's Trinity Consort (a choral group I heard once with Dave and Karen). All the cousins can sing! Kari is the soloist on this traditional Irish hymn:

Be Thou My Vision

Be Thou my Vision, O Lord of my heart;
Naught be all else to me, save that Thou art
Thou my best Thought, by day or by night,
Waking or sleeping, Thy presence my light.

Be Thou my Wisdom, be Thou my true Word;
I ever with Thee and Thou with me, Lord;
Thou my great Father, Thy child may I be;
Thou in me dwelling, and I one with Thee.

Be Thou my Armor, my Sword for the fight;
Be Thou my Dignity, Thou my Delight;
Thou my soulís Shelter, Thou my high Tower:
Raise Thou me heavenward, O Power of my power.

Riches I heed not, nor vain empty praise,
Thou mine Inheritance, now and always:
Thou and Thou only, first in my heart,
High King of heaven, my Treasure Thou art.

High King of heaven, when victory is won,
May I reach heavenís joys, O bright Heavenís Sun!
Heart of my own heart, whatever befall,
Still be my Vision, O Ruler of all.

Of all the hymns on this CD, one especially means a lot to me. As my father was dying, he became enamored of an Enya song called "How Can I Keep From Singing?" Here is the Gingerich family's recording of that old hymn:

My Life Flows On

My life flows on in endless song;
Above earthís lamentation
I catch the sweet though far off hymn
That hails a new creation:
No storm can shake my inmost calm
While to that rock I'm clinging;
Since Love is Lord of heaven and earth,
How can I keep from singing?

Through all the tumult and the strife
I hear the music ringing;
It finds an echo in my souló
How can I keep from singing?
No storm can shake my inmost calm
While to that rock I'm clinging;
Since Love is Lord of heaven and earth,
How can I keep from singing?

What though my joys and comforts die?
The Lord my Savior liveth;
What though the darkness gather round!
Songs in the night He giveth:
No storm can shake my inmost calm
While to that rock I'm clinging;
Since Love is Lord of heaven and earth,
How can I keep from singing?

The peace of Christ makes fresh my heart,
A fountain ever springing:
All things are mine since I am Hisó
How can I keep from singing?
No storm can shake my inmost calm
While to that rock I'm clinging;
Since Love is Lord of heaven and earth,
How can I keep from singing?

The CD features thirty songs. I do not love all of them, but I love many of them. Other favorites include Be Still My Soul, Praise God From Whom All Blessings Flow (a.k.a. "the Mennonite anthem"), All Hail the Power of Jesus' Name (which is always fun to sing: "Crown Him! Crown Him! Crown Him Lord of all!"), and In the Rifted Rock.

Only half in jest, I've suggested to Jenn that the Gingerich family should make another CD, but that they should let me select the songs this time. It's the only way I can be certain they'll record all the hymns I love, such as one my grandmother loved: "On Christ the solid rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand!" Jenn laughs when I suggest this. It took a lot of time and stress and effort to get this CD made. (Apparently there's a profane outtake somewhere out there. I hope someday to hear it.)

I love this CD. If you'd like a copy, let me (or Jenn) know. The fancy-schmancy versions are all gone, but we can make a cheap duplicate for you.

Postscript: I loved Mormon hymns as a child, too. Dad had several records featuring the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. Out of nostalgia, I bought one of the Choir's CDs. I was disappointed. Mennonite music is sung a capella. I'd forgotten that in the Mormon church, all of our music was accompanied by an organ, and that the Mormon Tabernacle Choir is not afraid of bombast. Even a lovely little hymn like Bringing in the Sheaves somehow takes on a martial flare.

On this day at foldedspace.org

2003Something Awful   George W. Bush is as dumb as a post.

2002The Case of the Vanishing Files   This morning, all of the files for this website (foldedspace.org) and for my business website (compresnw.com) that were not in the web sites' root directories have vanished.

On 13 January 2005 (11:28 AM), Courtney said:

I'm not a religious person, but I too love this CD. We listen to it often. It's beautiful and peaceful and I'm amazed that all those Gingeriches sing so incredibly. Believe it or not, I recognize some of the hymns from our Unitarian services.

On 13 January 2005 (11:32 AM), Courtney said:

Alas, not much has changed since "On this day" 2003...he's still dumb as a post and likely will be for the next 4 years! Arrgghhh!!

On 14 January 2005 (08:16 AM), jenefer said:

yes, I would love a copy of this CD.

On 14 January 2005 (12:26 PM), Mrs Darling (tammy) said:

Hey JD I still sing all of these songs. Every Sunday I'm in my spot singing the old hymns only now I'm in a Baptist church instead of Mennonite. I never even pay attention to the song mumber. I never even pull the hymnal from the pew in front of me. I know every verse of every song by memory having sung them all of my life. I love singing these old songs that have stood the test of time.

On 14 January 2005 (01:07 PM), J.D. said:

I'm surprised you sing these hymns, Tammy. I expected you to sing songs like "A Mighty Fortress is Our God" and "Onward Christian Soldiers".

I like the Gingerich hymns because they paint a picture of a comforting Christ, a compassionate God. They're songs of solace and love. This is what religion should be about.

On 14 January 2005 (02:33 PM), Mrs Darling (tammy) said:

Well yes, I sing those songs too and I bet the Gingriches have been known to sing them also. You see God is not all loving. He is also a God of judgement. I believe in a loving, compassionate God but to think that His love and compassion are all there is to Him is wrong and proven many times in Scripture as he brings judgement upon judgement to people who do not follow His commands.

Religion may be all about warm fuzzies but God is not.

On 14 January 2005 (03:18 PM), Jeff said:

"Religion may be all about warm fuzzies but God is not."

I usually find the opposite to be true, but whatever...

On 15 January 2005 (08:54 AM), Kim said:

I asked Jennifer for one of these CD's when they came out and never got one. Maybe if I ask you JD, I will.

On 15 January 2005 (08:55 AM), Kim said:

I asked Jennifer for one of these CD's when they came out and never got one. Maybe if I ask you JD, I will.

On 26 February 2005 (03:00 PM), Cliff said:

I was searching the web for a recording of "My life flows on/How can I keep from singing" (but looking for the Enya tune, rather than the old hymn tune), and came across your site.

Wow... fantastic sound, and great list of songs. It is amazing to find an extended family nowadays that sings, and that gets along well enough to sing together! I grew up singing this kind of music (in fact I can sing the tenor or bass parts to most of these hymns without the music), but it's been a while since I've heard them acapella.

I'd like to get a copy of the CD, or download the rest of the music from the web if it's available somewhere. Please let me know how to get a hold of it.

On 14 July 2005 (01:24 PM), N. Widmer said:

How can I get some of these CD's by the Gingerich family?

By the way, who is this person who makes the statement that he is no longer a Christian?

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