Companions on our journey

Last month saw one hundred young adults from across the country gather at the National Youth Assembly to discuss various topics including worship. We asked the outgoing and incoming Moderators to tell us about some music that is particularly meaningful to them and which has helped them on their faith journey.

Lynsey Martin KimmittPeople really care about hymns. As an organist, I get into lots of interesting conversations about why a particular hymn is important to someone. Some people will like hymns because of the melody, for some it will be all about the words and for some certain hymns will remind them of a particular life event that means a lot to them. Whilst I don’t have one favourite hymn, my favourite ones are those that have an element of all three of these things. I have recently finished my year in office as Moderator of the National Youth Assembly. This was a year full of excitement and challenge. It’s also been a year full of reflection and one of the things that has helped me most throughout the year is music. As I think about one of my favourite hymns, I thought it would be appropriate to choose one which tells a story of a journey and which has gently challenged me and encouraged me throughout the year.

With this in mind, one of my favourite hymns is “Will you come and follow me” set to the tune Kelvingrove. To begin with, I like the words. I like that they ask questions and that they’re not always questions with immediate answers. Each time I sing it a different question stands out, but every question nudges me to think more deeply about certain aspects of my life. Another aspect that I like about this hymn is the tune. I really enjoy singing old Scottish tunes. I find that I can connect with the music, sing along easily and the gentle lilt of some of these tunes really helps me to reflect on the words. For that reason, I really like Kelvingrove. I like that it can be played in a number of ways – it can be played with a slight skip and jump to it and can be fairly lively, however, I think I really enjoy this hymn when it is sung in a slow reflective way.

For many of us, favourite hymns are the ones that can be sung in various contexts and can stand out as marker points on our life journey. My first memory of this song was when I joined the Church at the age of sixteen. At this point in my life, it allowed me to express and articulate a conversation with God about continuing a journey of faith. I sang it again at my ordination as an Elder. On both occasions I had a lot of questions and the hymn helped me to reflect on these as I continued on my journey with God. In a totally different situation this was also a hymn that was sung at my Grandad’s funeral. This time round, it felt like more of a celebration of my Grandad’s life on earth. It allowed me be thankful for the ways in which he followed God and whilst being a time of deep sadness for me, encouraged me to find hope, to find joy in life and journeying through life. Every so often when I sing this song, I get a small painful “twang” at the memory of my Grandad’s funeral. Whilst it is painful, it doesn’t make me sad – it encourages me to keep journeying.

It’s one of those hymns that causes a lot of emotions and feelings but perhaps more than any other song or hymn, it makes me think, reflect and focus. I love that music can do that. I love that some hymns are loved for their triumphant music and joyful words but I also appreciate when hymns capture a more reflective mood, allowing a space to discern the next steps on the journey with God.

Lynsey Martin Kimmitt was Moderator of the 2013 National Youth Assembly. She is an organist at Coldside Parish Church, Dundee, and by day she works as a Trainee Solicitor.

Rachel HutchesonI have just begun my year as Moderator of the National Youth Assembly. Before it started I had many fears and concerns about what stood before me. I regularly doubted my capabilities and wondered why I had agreed to take on such a taxing role. I often compared myself to Moderators who had gone before me, each of whom seemed far more established in the Church than I. Some were ordained elders, some worked for the church or were married to well-connected spouses and finally, some even had clergy as family. I have none of these connections, experiences or direct lines to God.

During the build up to the National Youth Assembly I often found I was giving myself a ‘pep talk’, desperately digging deep to find courage, strength and motivation to believe in myself. I often listen to praise music whilst working. I have a playlist on YouTube titled ‘Jesus Tunes’ with all my favourite psalms, hymns and songs, of which there are many. Generally my favourite hymns are of the more upbeat, soul stirring variety, although there are a small number of more reflective pieces in the playlist.

In the weeks before NYA 2014 I became very aware of the song "Take, O take me as I am" by John Bell (CH4 #795). I was first introduced to this short song whilst on a COSY pilgrimage to the Holy Land in 2008. Although I liked the tune and could relate to the words it was not particularly powerful to me... yet. As the National Youth Assembly drew nearer I was taking more notice of this simple song. When I heard the first few notes of the tune I would often stop what I was doing and listen intently to the words which became particularly meaningful to me.

To begin with it was a comfort to hear this short song. The choir in my local church would often sing it during a Sunday service. It was familiar and reminded me of my church family. In the build up to being announced as Moderator my home congregation were and still are a huge support to me. Also, the more I listened to it the clearer it became in my heart and mind that I would be okay as I embarked on this new adventure. I took great comfort in the fact that the National Youth Assembly would take me as I am. I was filled with confidence, as well as a sense of peace, as I remembered I was called to this role, just as I am.

During our Friday night session I was asked in front of the entire assembly if I had any fears. Usually I would never admit to having fears, however, the simple tune of "Take O take me as I am" popped into my head. I was filled with warmth as I said I had feared I wouldn’t be good enough to serve the National Youth Assembly but with plenty of prayer and reflection, often with my special song, I was confident I would be guided and supported throughout the year ahead and be fit for purpose.

Rachel Hutcheson is Moderator of the 2014 National Youth Assembly. She is a member at Old High St. Stephen's Church, Inverness, and is studying to be a Primary School teacher at the University of Aberdeen.

Further young adult resources and events can be found within the Resourcing Mission Learn pages.

You may also be interested in the additional Starters for Sunday material for Pentecost 2013, written by members of NYA.