Best Then, Best Now
There was a second page turned down in the green back Broadman Hymnal of my youth. While the first page that was turned down, was the hymn “Ready” which greatly influenced my call to ministry, the second page turned down was for a hymn that equally influenced my life. It was also a favorite of my mother’s. The words to the first verse are still lodged in my memory, and I think I can still hear Mama singing the alto part as I sat next to her in church services. “Hear ye the Master’s call, ‘Give Me thy best!’ For, be it great or small, that is His test. Do then the best you can, not for reward, not for the praise of men, but for the Lord.” It fit well with the motto that my mother repeated for me every morning as I left the house for school, “Good, better, best. Never let it rest. ‘Til your good is better and your better is best.” I’m fairly confident that my Southern Baptist mother did not know that this was a quote from the Catholic Priest and Theologian, Saint Jerome. All that really matter to her was that the hymn was from The Broadman Hymnal, second only in importance to the King James Bible, with her notes on almost every page. I’m not sure if this hymn, “Our Best” was based on any specific passage of scripture, but it could have been influenced by Numbers 18:29, “You must present as the Lord’s portion the best and holiest part of everything given to you.” I wonder if there is a song being sung by today’s youth that will impact them decades later, as powerfully, as the hymns of my youth have directed me across the years.