We tend to think we are living in fast-moving times… and we are! It seems life continues to change all around us, and it’s difficult to keep up with all the changes in culture, technology, medicine, entertainment, communication, and even the church.
But, imagine what it must have been like living in the 1860s!
The Pony Express began… which made communication go faster and farther (1860). Abraham Lincoln was elected President of the US (1860).
By 1861, 11 states had seceded from the Union over states’ rights. This led to the beginning of the Civil War (1861), which pitted state against state, community against community and – in some cases – family member against family member.
The Homestead Act was enacted in 1862, which encouraged Western migration by providing settlers 160 acres of public land.
In 1862/63, President Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, declaring all people held as slaves would be free.
In 1864, President Lincoln won re-election.
In 1865, President Lincoln was assassinated; Andrew Johnson became President. Later that same year (1865), the Civil War ended as the last elements of the Confederacy surrendered. The 13th Amendment passed, permanently outlawing slavery.
In 1868, President Andrew Johnson was impeached; acquitted by the Senate. Later that same year (1868), the 14th Amendment was ratified – it addressed citizenship rights and equal protection of the laws, and was proposed in response to issues related to former slaves following the Civil War. And before that year was over (1868) Ulysses S. Grant was elected president.
In 1869, The First Transcontinental Railroad was completed, and transportation was accelerated across the country… literally.
Other than the space race or the internet… or the cultural changes we are experiencing today, I cannot think of another decade that experienced more change!
But, out of those turbulent, fast-changing times came a decade filled with incredible productivity of hymns. Sometimes, God is allowed to do His best work during the darkest – or most uncertain – times… and that should encourage us in the times in which we live!
Take a look at some of the hymns that were written during that 10-year period of the 1860s (and aren’t you glad the church was willing to learn and sing new songs!)… it’s possible your favorite hymn was written during that one decade!
1860 – Beneath the Cross of Jesus
1862 – There’s a Wideness in God’s Mercy; He Leadeth Me!
1863 – Ring the Bells of Heaven; Revive Us Again
1864 – My Jesus, I Love Thee; Shall We Gather at the River?;
For the Beauty of the Earth; I Will Sing of the Mercies of the Lord
1865 – Jesus Paid It All; Day by Day
1866 – The Church’s One Foundation; I Love to Tell the Story;
I’ve Found a Friend, O Such a Friend
1867 – Immortal, Invisible, God Only Wise; Onward, Christian Soldiers
1868 – Pass Me Not, O Gentle Savior; The Sweet By and By
1869 – Jesus, Keep Me Near the Cross