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New Hymn: Praise Our Savior, Jesus Christ

Note: this hymn has been updated, so I am republishing this post.

I am thrilled to recommend a new hymn collaboration between Pastor Chris Anderson and Dr. Paul Jones. This is truly a wonderful example of a modern hymn that continues in a long tradition of rich hymnody.

The text is profound doctrinally, intentionally gospel-centered, and joyfully Christ-exalting. The tune supports the text brilliantly. It is harmonically fresh and structurally sound. Like the text, it is not immediately accessible; it is a deep well to which a worshiper can come often for a refreshing drink.

Best of all, the hymn is free for use, truly a ministry to Christ’s Church. I urge you to download the hymn and teach it to your congregation.

This is a hymn that is bound to stand the test of time.

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.

2 Responses to New Hymn: Praise Our Savior, Jesus Christ

  1. Hi Scott,

    Just curious about this, not sniping — you say that the melody and the text are not immediately accessible, and you say that as a compliment to it. I've listened to the tune and I agree it'll take some concentration to sing through.

    Here's my question — is it necessarily a good thing to make a worshipper concentrate so hard on the song itself? I'm new to most every hymn my church sings (being a new-ish believer whose first church did mostly CCM-style songs). My wife and I spend the entire hymn trying to get the melody right and trying to read the lyrics. Since many of them are written in styles that don't follow common grammatical patterns, there's often a good deal of translation from hymn-ese to modern English. It's actually quite a bit of work to sing and comprehend a hymn the first few times.

    My problem is not that I don't want to do the work — it usually repays greatly. But it does mean that when I'm in corporate worship, my attention is on the hymnal, the melody, accessing the text, etc — that is, on the song rather than on the Lord. I find this problematic, as I'm not there to devote myself to the work of Watts or Wesley or Toplady, uplifting as it is. I'm there to worship my God and Savior, and complex hymns distract from that.

    I understand that as I get to know the hymns better this problem will recede. And I surely don't want to sing "How great is our God, sing with me" twenty-eight times over the course of five minutes, for such mindless repetition is surely not the right way to honor our God. But is it truly better to require such intensive study of a hymn?

    As I say, I'm asking for your take because I want to know, not to chuck stones at you. I'm hacking away at songwriting myself, and I find your analyses useful, so I'd like to read your thoughts.

    Best,

    Christian Mastilak

  2. Hi, Christian. Thanks for your comment. Perhaps how I said that didn't exactly communicate what I meant, but here are my thoughts.

    When a song is immediately accessible and gratifying (both textually and musically), that usually (not always) means that it is shallow. A song like that might please for a while, but there are two inherent problems with shallow (notice I didn't say simple) songs:

    1. Very quickly they get old and "lifeless" because there's nothing really to them. This leads to the second problem:

    2. It takes a whole lot more artificial means to "work up" the same kinds of "feelings" after singing such songs for a while.

    This is why I'm convinced that songs with at least a level of depth both textually and musically are more beneficial for worship. Yes, it might take a little more work to appreciate such songs, but that usually means, as you yourself admitted, that the dividends one eventually receives are much greater.

    This is really true of most things in the Christian life, I think – they take work to understand and appreciate, but the work is worth it.

    All of this is on a continuum, of course. Some songs take more work to appreciate than others, and that doesn't necessarily determine their relative worth. Furthermore, I firmly believe that a song could be simple and yet profound. Something does not have to be complex in order to have depth.

    But something with depth (which is what I am describing this hymn as) enables the worshiper to keep coming back and back to it, and each time he receives more deep expressions of ordinate affection to the Lord.

    Believe me, I understand the work it must take those who are new believers or who are coming from a culture of shallow worship songs to really appreciate and benefit from these kinds of hymns with depth. But keep it up! I think you will find, if you do work at it, that your expression of affection for the Lord through these hymns will be far greater for it.

    I do think that in our society, with its prevalence of pop music (the essence of shallow, novel, immediately gratifying music), it may be even more difficult to dive into this kind of thing cold turkey. In previous generations, before there was such a thing as pop culture (pop culture didn't exist before mass media), most people had at least a base appreciation for music with some level of depth. Now, unfortunately, most people have short attention spans, and their ability to appreciate textual and musical depth is all but absent.

    So I would encourage you to take the time to reshape your tastes. Go here to find some recommendations of recordings that have many of these great hymns, and listen to them at home. The more you expose yourself to what is demonstrably good, the more you will develop an appreciation for it.

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