I was raised on the Worship in Song Hymnal published by the Nazarene Publishing House. It was opened every time we had service at the Overland Park Church of God (Holiness.) In fact, I had some of the song numbers memorized due to so much time being spent in it. I used it to begin playing hymns and improvising. One of the first hymns I learned to improvise on was "Jesus Lover of My Soul," page 37. It was especially fitted for early improvisation. I remember my Uncle Leon Wright, helping me with one of those early experiences. I am grateful.
Using a hymnal helped me to learn to read music and understand the concept of four part harmony.
I learned a lot of Theology about God by singing from a hymnal. "A Mighty Fortress is our God, a bulwark never failing....for still our ancient foe doth seek to work us woe. His craft and power are great and armed with cruel hate. On earth is not his equal..."
Hymns and Gospel songs speak to the soul. When learning about Hymns, knowing stories behind them can be especially meaningful. Take, for example, "O Love That Wilt Not Let Me Go," page 35 in the Worship in Song Hymnal. The words were written by George Matheson. Something happened between he and his fiance. There was no marriage. From his sorrow he wrote the beautiful words that have spoken to many hearts since..."O love that wilt not let me go, I rest my weary soul in Thee, I give Thee back the life I owe, that in Thine ocean depths its flow may richer, fuller be." Truly, the love of Christ never lets those who are His, go. It draws us in. It soothes. It strengthens. It gives us hope.