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Do we need to dumb down hymn language in order to be comprehensible?

Mark Ward, who has addressed the issue of of King James Onlyism, addresses whether his arguments apply equally to hymns we sing in corporate worship. I generally agree with what he’s written here:

Does My Argument in Authorized Apply to Old Hymns? – By Faith We Understand

Important to recognize here is the difference between discursive teaching and what is happening when we sing. The former requires a greater level of propositional clarity, while the latter necessarily involves poetic expressions that contain an different kind of clarity, a clarity not possible with dumbed down propositions.

This is especially important to recognize, as Mark notes, since Scripture itself includes such kinds of poetic expressions.

Scott Aniol

About Scott Aniol

Scott Aniol is the founder and Executive Director of Religious Affections Ministries. He is Chair of the Worship Ministry Department at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, where he teaches courses in ministry, worship, hymnology, aesthetics, culture, and philosophy. He is the author of Worship in Song: A Biblical Approach to Music and Worship, Sound Worship: A Guide to Making Musical Choices in a Noisy World, and By the Waters of Babylon: Worship in a Post-Christian Culture, and speaks around the country in churches and conferences. He is an elder in his church in Fort Worth, TX where he resides with his wife and four children. Views posted here are his own and not necessarily those of his employer.

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One Response to Do we need to dumb down hymn language in order to be comprehensible?

  1. May I humbly suggest that we use a less edgy term than “dumbing down”? If we needed to explain a phrase or word to our congregation, would we say “Let me dumb this down for you”?

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