We often forget the importance of singing hymns.
But not Wes Hampton.
After performing at Reverend Billy Graham’s memorial service, alongside fellow Gaither Vocal Band members, Wes was inspired to finish the solo album he started a year earlier, “Wes Hampton Hymns.”
Hampton says, “I want people to know they matter, and they are wanted and needed. Singing these hymns still reminds me today of the powerful truths that never change: Our identities are in Christ, not in what the world portrays. We were created by the One who desires to know us intimately.”
Wes has always loved music. He grew up with an admiration for the music of Steve Green, Larnelle Harris, Michael English and the iconic Gaither Vocal Band. He sang in two groups while in high school, where he traveled locally and performed concerts. Wes later attended Trevecca Nazarene University from 1996 until 1998, where he sang lead for a gospel quartet.
He moved to Birmingham, Alabama, and married his wife, Andrea, in 1998. Wes finished his B.A. in psychology and minor in music in August of 2000 from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Wes was part of the worship staff at a local church in Birmingham for seven years, until he auditioned for the Gaither Vocal Band in May of 2005. After seven weeks of auditioning, Wes accepted the tenor position for the Gaither Vocal Band.
Wes has won numerous awards for his singing. He released his first solo album in 2010, titled “A Man Like Me,” which was nominated for a Dove Award. He also won a Grammy in 2009 for the Gaither Vocal Band album, “Lovin’ Life,” and was also nominated with the GVB for a Grammy for three more albums. Wes, along with the Gaither Vocal Band, has gone on to win numerous Gospel Music Association Dove Awards over the years as well. Further, Wes won the 2006 Singing News Horizon Individual Fan Award for best new artist. In 2018, Wes and the GVB had the honor of singing at Billy Graham’s memorial service where President Trump and Vice President Pence were in attendance.
Dr. Diane Howard has an exclusive interview with Wes Hampton on the value of hymns:
SCH: How are hymns personally meaningful to you?
WH: From early childhood hymns have had a strong impact on me with solid theological truths.
SCH: Is your new album made up of classic, historic, traditional, as well as modern hymns?
WH: Yes, most are classic, historic hymns that have stood the test of time; but one is a newer, more modern hymn.
SCH: Why is it important to sing classic, historic hymns in our churches and elsewhere?
WH: They are not superficial. They bring home basic deep truths. They have been written with great care, thought, and artistry.
SCH: What is the value of historic, classic hymns in terms of content and artistry?
WH: They have had a personal impact on me since I was a kid. The lyrics sunk in deeply. They reassured me that God is always faithful over time. They have stood the test of time as being musically and artistically creative and complex and as having range. They stood fast over time in terms of the worth of their content, theology, and artistry.
SCH: What is the value of historic, classic hymns in terms of theological content?
WH: They are deep theologically. They make us think. They have profound unpredictable lyrics.
SCH: What is the value of historic, classic hymns in terms of what the Bible calls a “cloud of witnesses”?
WH: They share the legacy of those great Christian figures who have gone before us. They are multi-generational, with universal truths and issues that have been true over time.
SCH: How are the stories of historic, classic hymns important?
WH: The hymns have been written out of deep, personal experience. An example is “It is Well With My Soul,” written in 1899 by Horatio G. Spafford, when he saw the place where his four daughters had died at sea.
SCH: What is the value of modern hymns?
WH: They speak to a new generation. They can be richer hymns when they like the classic, historic hymns refer to great Biblical truths and have the richness of literary and musical elements of the classic, historic hymns.
SCH: Are hymnals important with the musical lines, not just the words?
WH: Yes, because the melodies and harmonies reflect the rich harmonies of God and His universe.
SCH: Why is it important to teach and encourage Christians of all ages to read and sing the music of hymns?
WH: Because there is a supernatural, spiritual experience in singing great, musical, complex melodies with their richness of range and musicality. It connects us to the complex harmonies of God and His universe.
A hymn is basically a broad term referring to a song of praise. God’s people have sung hymns to praise the Almighty from the time of Moses (Exodus 15:1). David sang a hymn of praise to God (Psalm 40:3). Jesus and His disciples sang a hymn together at the Last Supper (Mark 14:26). Paul and Silas, while in stocks in a Philippian jail, sang hymns to God (Acts 16:25).
The content of a hymn distinguishes it from “psalms” and “spiritual songs” (Ephesians 5:19). A psalm is Scripture set to music and is usually from the book of Psalms. A spiritual song is any song with a spiritual theme, which include testimony and admonition. Uniquely, a hymn addresses, celebrates, and praises with adoration. The psalms are included in the Bible as the inspired word of God, whereas hymns and songs are created for worship by Christians. All refer to Biblical Truth. All are intended to honor God and support the Christian faith.
The classic hymns of Martin Luther, Isaac Watts, Fanny Crosby, Charles Wesley, and others have helped Christians focus on the goodness and glory of the Lord for generations and have connected multiple generations in their faith. Modern hymn writers have also helped us with the earlier hymn writers to focus and concentrate on our Almighty and Great Lord, who is great and worthy of praise (Psalm 96:4).
Album Preview: https://music.apple.com/ca/album/wes-hampton-hymns/1466644155
“…Be filled with the Spirit. Speak to one another with psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your hearts to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.…” Ephesians 5:18-20
By Diane Howard, Ph.D. (Performance Studies)