When Jesus and his disciples were in the upper room, Jesus washed the disciple's feet, setting an exam,ple for them to serve one another, and they concluded this first communion service by singing a hymn (see John 13:5; Matt 26:30). Michael Gibson believes that when they sang hymns, it gave Jesus comfort before His crucifixion. Gibson wants to revive the significance of hymns and help people remember their purpose.
So, in early 2018 and under the Pioneer Memorial Church Music Ministry, Gibson started Hymneo. The group consists of 10 to 15 people that write and sing new songs and, traditional hymns with a twist. Gibson leads Hymneo along with Jamila Sylvester, producer; Michelle Odinma, songwriter; and Chad Angasan, touring/networking. “We want to be a hope and a solace in the midst of what’s going on, and be able to sing praises and sing about the hurts and the despairs, but also about the overcoming power of Jesus,” Gibson said.
Group members write songs that share their distinctive Seventh-day Adventist faith, and are contemporarily relevant. They aren’t trying to replace traditional hymns. “There’s a rich heritage there,” said Gibson. “There are stories in those songs and those songs are meaningful.” On the other hand, he also believes some of the “oldies but goodies” deserve an upgrade. Hymneo has already produced two music videos that will debut this fall, including a new melody to the song “Fairest Lord Jesus” and “To You We Sing,” written by Gibson and his wife, Melissa.
Although Hymneo is at the beginning of its journey, their goal is to have an online presence with a database of music (including sheet music, instructional videos, etc.) that churches and individuals can access for free. Gibson says the group wants to create an enhanced spiritual and musical experience. “We have two tracks: the new original songs that are speaking of our own experience, our own story, but also taking some of those original, traditional songs that people sing and give them a new twist. So there’s a familiarity with it, but then there’s also the contemporary push forward that brings us to like, ‘Wow! This song is still relevant today.’”
Gibson and his wife hope to start another Hymneo group at Southwestern University in Keene, Texas, where he has been assigned as youth pastor, starting this fall. The group is currently looking to partner with other universities and churches. For more information, you can reach Hymneo via email at hymneocollective.com and on social media.