Local ministers weigh in on hymns

Published 12:00 am Thursday, September 18, 2003

A new exhibit of the Top 10 Hymns of all time recently opened at Christus Gardens in Gatlinburg, Tenn., a leading non-denominational religious attraction in this East Tennessee tourist mecca.

The Top 10 Hymns display joins a number of others in Christus Gardens, including The Promise, a 900-square-foot mural depicting Old Testament history; a large collection of Bibles and other religious writings; The Place of the Parables, with life-size paintings of the stories Jesus told; Biblical Coins; the Face of Christ concave sculpture carved into a six-ton block of Italian Carrara marble; the Christ of the Smokies, another sculpture; and a new diorama depicting Christ in prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane.

Visitors to Christus Gardens walk through the life of Christ, from the Nativity to the Ascension, with many life-size scenes featuring more than 100 biblical figures, dramatic lights, choral music, special effects and narration.

The Top 10 Hymns of all time, according to the Christus Gardens, are:

1. &uot;Amazing Grace,&uot; words by John Newton (1725-1807 (vv.1-4) and John Reex (1828-1900) (v.5).

2. &uot;Blessed Assurance,&uot; words by Fanny Crosby (1820-1915) and music by Mrs. Joseph Knapp.

3. &uot;A Mighty Fortress,&uot; words and music by Martin Luther (1483-1546).

4. &uot;Great Is Thy Faithfulness,&uot; lyrics by Thomas O. Chisolm (1866-1960).

5. &uot;Just As I Am,&uot; lyrics by Charlotte Elliott (1789-1871).

6. &uot;O for a Thousand Tongues,&uot; lyrics by Charles Wesley (1707-1788).

7. &uot;Praise to the Lord, the Almighty,&uot; lyrics by Joachim Neander (1650-80), translated by Catherine Winkworth (1829-1878).

8. &uot;What a Friend We Have in Jesus,&uot; lyrics by Joseph Scriven (1819-1886).

9. &uot;Rock of Ages,&uot; lyrics by Augustus M. Toplady (1740-1778).

10. &uot;The Old Rugged Cross,&uot; lyrics and music by George Bennard (1873-1958).

The Selma Times-Journal contacted eight congregations in the community representing a cross-section of religious groups, Catholic, mainline Protestant, evangelical and independent.

The results of the informal poll indicate fairly close correspondence with the Top 10 list from Christus Gardens.

Respondents were asked to rate each hymn by the amount of actual usage in their congregation. The categories offered were &uot;favorite,&uot; &uot;occasional&uot; and &uot;never.&uot; Respondents were not, however, asked to list their own congregation’s favorite hymns.

The hymns were first ranked according to the number of respondents indicating &uot;favorite&uot; status, in descending order.

The second ranking was compiled by assigning a value of &uot;2&uot; to a &uot;favorite&uot; vote cast and a &uot;1&uot; to an &uot;occasional&uot; vote cast.

In the first ranking, according to the largest number of &uot;favorite&uot; responses received, the list of the Top 10 was as follows:

When points were awarded for both favorite and occasional responses, the list was reordered as follows, in general, resembling the Christus Gardens list more closely:

1. &uot;Amazing Grace&uot; (no. 1)

2. &uot;Blessed Assurance&uot; (no. 2)

3. &uot;Great Is Thy Faithfulness&uot; (no. 4)

4. &uot;A Mighty Fortress&uot; (no. 3)

5. &uot;Just as I Am&uot; (no. 5); &uot;The Old Rugged Cross&uot; (no. 10)

6. &uot;O For a Thousand Tongues&uot; (no. 6)

7.

&uot;Praise to the Lord, the Almighty&uot; (no. 7); &uot;What a Friend We Have in Jesus&uot; (no. 8); &uot;Rock of Ages&uot; (no. 9)

Christus Gardens is inviting the individuals to cast their vote for the Top 10 Hymns by sending a letter to Christus Gardens, P.O. Box 587, Gatlinburg, TN 37738.

Christus Gardens has hosted millions of visitors since its founding in 1960, from all 50 states and more than 110 other countries.

It was named Travel Attraction of the Year by the Southeast Tourism Society in 2001, and it has won awards each year since 1986 for its Winterfest Outdoor Lighting display.