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Hymn advocates aren't always good hymn writers

Benjamin Keach, a Baptist pastor in the late 17th century, is often credited as the first Englishman to provide a well-developed defense of the recovery1 of hymn singing (instead of exclusive Psalm singing). His advocacy paved the way for Isaac Watts, Charles Wesley, and other significant English hymn writers.

Just because you are a successful advocate of hymn singing, however, doesn’t necessarily mean that you can do the task yourself. Keach wrote and published many hymns, but most of them were just awful. Here is one example that I thought would provide some levity at the end of the week:

Our wounds do stink and are corrupt,
Hard swelling do we see;
We want a little ointment, Lord,
Let us more humble be.
Repentance like a bucket is
To pump the water out;
For leaky is our ship, alas
Which makes us look about.

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.

  1. Note that I say “recovery,” because the singing of hymns of “human composure” (rather than just inspired Psalmody) has precedence dating back to the early church and Lutheran traditions; it had simply been lost in favor of exclusive Psalm singing in Reformed and Anglican traditions. []

2 Responses to Hymn advocates aren't always good hymn writers

  1. Demonstrating once again that just because you can impose a particular simile/metaphor on your subject doesn't mean you should.

  2. God bless Mr. Keach — he really took it on the chin for his views which were truly unique and daring.

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