9 Hymns For Christians Who Struggle With Depression

9 Hymns For Christians Who Struggle With Depression August 4, 2018

My name’s Jonathan, and I struggle with depression. So please know that when I wrote a post like this, I do so out of experience and deep empathy.

These are not just vapid gospel songs that salve the soul but offer little truth. I’m not going to tell you what others have said; that if you just praise God all your troubles will melt away. Those are evil lies. Reliance upon God doesn’t melt away your troubles, and those who say so have either had terribly easy lives or, more likely, are lost in religulous delusion. But what these hymns, and especially worship in Word and Sacrament, can do is to aid us in seeing the world, and ourselves, through a Christ and cross-shaped lens. Then in the midst of the deepest, darkest night of the soul, we can find the tiny morsel of faith within us to keep going.

These are beautiful hymns of strength and substance that carry enough truth to help you mount a resistance in your heart and mind.

Savior, Like a Shepherd Lead Us

This is one of the finest texts adopted from the Sunday School hymn tradition. Written for children to sing, the childlike quality of the poetry is juxtaposed with the most glorious theological reality: Jesus the Good Shepherd tends and feeds us, and is with us when we’re lost in eerie solitude.

Savior, like a shepherd lead us,
Much we need thy tender care;
In thy pleasant pastures feed us,
For our use thy folds prepare:
Blessed Jesus, blessed Jesus,
Thou hast bought us, thine we are;
Blessed Jesus, blessed Jesus,
Thou has bought us, thine we are.

We are thine; do thou befriend us,
Be the guardian of our way;
Keep thy flock, from sin defend us,
Seek us when we go astray:
Blessed Jesus, blessed Jesus,
Hear, O hear us when we pray;
Blessed Jesus, blessed Jesus,
Hear, O hear us when we pray.

Thou has promised to receive us,
Poor and sinful though we be;
Thou has mercy to relieve us,
Grace to cleanse, and pow’r to free:
Blessed Jesus, blessed Jesus,
Early let us turn to thee;
Blessed Jesus, blessed Jesus,
Early let us turn to thee.

Early let us seek thy favor;
Early let us do thy will;
Blessed Lord and only Savior,
With thy love our bosoms fill:
Blessed Jesus, blessed Jesus,
Thou hast loved us, love us still;
Blessed Jesus, blessed Jesus,
Thou has love us, love us still.

Now Thank We All Our God

This is one of my family’s table blessings, and that’s how the first two stanzas originated during the Thirty Years’ War. The poet, Martin Rinkart, was the only surviving pastor in Eilenburg, Saxony, and was thus tasked with performing up to 50 funerals a day. In the darkest times, my prayer remains, “And keep us in his grace / and guide us when perplexed / and free us from all ills / in this world and the next.”

Now thank we all our God
With heart and hands and voices,
Who wondrous things hath done,
In whom his world rejoices;
Who, from our mother’s arms,
Hath blest us on our way
With countless gifts of love,
And still is ours today.

O may this bounteous God
Through all our life be near us,
With ever joyful hearts
And blessed peace to cheer us;
And keep us in his grace,
And guide us when perplexed,
And free us from all ills
In this world and the next.

All praise and thanks to God
The Father now be given,
The Son, and him who reigns
With them in highest heaven,
The one eternal God,
Whom earth and heav’n adore;
For thus it was, is now,
And shall be evermore.

Christ Is Alive!

This one, written by the brilliant contemporary hymn-writer Brian Wren, is right now competing with “Thine Be the Glory” to be the recessional hymn at my funeral (which I hope isn’t for a long time, but it can’t hurt to be prepared!). It’s a reminder that, in light of the cross and glorious resurrection, the worst thing isn’t going to be the last thing.

From the Glory to God Presbyterian Hymnal:

In 1968, Easter fell ten days after the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., and this text was written to express an Easter hope while mindful of that terrible event. Buoyed by a triple-arched tune [TRURO], it affirms the presence of a wounded, risen Christ with all who suffer.

Christ is alive! Let Christians sing.
The cross stands empty to the sky.
Let streets and homes with praises ring.
Love, drowned in death, shall never die.

Christ is alive! No longer bound
to distant years in Palestine,
but saving, healing, here and now,
and touching every place and time.

In every insult, rift, and war
where color, scorn, or wealth divide,
Christ suffers still, yet loves the more,
and lives, where even hope has died.

Women and men, in age and youth,
can feel the Spirit, hear the call,
and find the way, the life, the truth,
revealed in Jesus, freed for all.

Christ is alive, and comes to bring,
good news to this and every age,
till earth and sky and ocean ring
with joy, with justice, love, and praise.

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