Wednesday, September 28, 2022

Hymns that teach

Jonathan Aigner is a parent and considers "What Do I Want My Kids to Sing":
...I find that I cannot escape considering what I would want my own children singing. Which hymns do I want entrenched in their earliest memories of singing in church? Which hymns do I want them to encounter with enough repetition that they become part of their spiritual formation? Which hymns do I want them to take with them in the coming seasons of their life? Time is short. ....

Here’s what I came up with. [at the post, he elaborates and gives examples]

Hymns of Praise That Speak to God’s Character
It should be obvious, but good hymns testify to the transcendent character of Almighty God as revealed in Scripture, and call the church to join in his praise. An overarching theme of worship is that God is God, and we are not. Great hymns remind us of this, and set our minds on God’s greatness. ....
Hymns That Proclaim the Gospel
I want them to sing hymns that talk about the love of Christ as shown through his redemptive work. Christ crucified for sinners is the greatest theme the human voice could possibly sing. ....
Hymns That Draw from Holy Scripture
Great hymns don’t apologize or cloud the truth of Holy Scripture, nor do they seek to make it more palatable to modern ears. Some of the greatest hymns are simply Scripture in poetic form. Take the wonderful hymns of Isaac Watts, for instance. ....

Hymns That Teach Good Theology
The hymnal is many things. One of those things is a theological textbook. (I think I said this in a post a long time ago…) Choose hymns that teach the truths of the Christian faith strongly and beautifully.
Hymns With a Low Anthropology
Again, God is God, and we are not. There is a tendency in modern hymn-writing to make too much out of human ability, insight, and will.... This is, in part, a high anthropology; it is the notion that, if all external factors are removed, humans can choose to be good and well-behaved, and can turn the world into a nice place. I want to sing hymns that, instead, follow the biblical and orthodox understanding of humanity as fallen, helpless to save themselves, and fully in need of God’s grace. ....
Hymns That Faithfully Portray the Church’s Mission ....

Hymns That Are Beautiful
There are a number of hymns that have some good things to say, but the poetry is so awful it gets in the way. ....
There are many examples of these kinds of hymns. Some are rich theological treasures. Others more simple and stark. Again, the main concern should be whether the hymn is really worth singing, knowing, and committing to memory. Is it true? Does it edify? Does it have enough meat on it to sustain us? Does it give us a realistic view of God, his kingdom, Christ’s work on our behalf, and humanity? If the answer to these is “no,” then perhaps it won’t do us any good at all, and maybe we should choose something else.  (more)
Jonathan Aigner, "What Do I Want My Kids to Sing: How I Choose Hymns," Ponder Anew, Sept. 28, 2022.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous5:54 PM

    I agree. One of my favorite hymns is not often heard, because it has been deemed a Christmas Carol, but Joy to the World has some depth, especially if you don't go Baptist on it and skip the 3rd verse.


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