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Thursday, January 5, 2017

This Hymns Business - Part 1

There is a subject that I have seen debated since the day I became a Christian. That is the question of music in The Body (the church). It’s a very large topic, but I’d like to break it into small, digestible bits. But if you want to save time and avoid reading these notes, music in The Body should be judged the same way we should judge everything: by scripture, by doctrine.

My only dog in this fight is truth. I enjoy both the hymns (H) and contemporary worship (CW). I judge each the same way: doctrinally from an Evangelical, biblical perspective. To that end, I like some H and some CW; I don’t like some H and don’t like some CW. Similar to my previous note on the names of the Lord, I really don’t care what you use, as long as it’s based on ultimate truth and as long as you don’t use non-biblical reasoning to condemn others who choose differently.

The arguments against using (CW) are generally the same (and it’s fair to say the attacks on CW are far more common than any on the H). If we turn these back on the H themselves, well, they don’t always fare well. It seems that where leeway is given some H, the same is not accorded to CW.

The accusations against CW are usually:

  • It’s “me” centered
  • It’s not very deep
  • The music is not “high” music
  • It tends to be loud
  • The songwriters sometimes have suspect lives
  • It’s repetitive

Of course, the first step would be to judge the criticisms, are they biblical criticisms? A second angle we need to keep in mind, what is the role of music in the Body? Instead of necessarily taking the accusations and assessments individually, I’ll incorporate them as they seem fit.

For today, I will simply start with the worship song used at the meeting of The Body which I attended today, compared with a popular hymn often used in “traditional” services.

 We gathered around the song “This I Believe,” the chorus to which is:

I believe in God our Father
I believe in Christ the Son
I believe in the Holy Spirit
Our God is three in one
I believe in the resurrection
That we will rise again
For I believe in the name of Jesus

Let’s compare that to the traditional hymn, “In My Heart There Rings a Melody” (1924)

In my heart there rings a melody,
There rings a melody with heaven's harmony;
In my heart there rings a melody,
There rings a melody of love.

I guarantee you, the Mormons have a lot more problems with the former over the latter. If I told you the second was CW, the critics would howl at its shallow nature, its man-centered construction and its kowtowing to the “simplistic love” of modern heretical thought.

Next time we’ll look at the criticisms in light of reality and, more importantly, in light of scripture. The biggest mistake we can make is to accept ALL H just because they are H or to accept ALL CW just because they are CW. Let truth reign over all.