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Hymnody Today: What Do We Do?

This entry is part 13 of 14 in the series

"The Hymnody of the Christian Church"

Read more posts by using the Table of Contents in the right sidebar.

So where does this leave us today? I will conclude with several brief suggestions of we should be striving toward in our choices of hymns for corporate worship.

  1. Recognize the importance of form. Form shapes content. As we evaluate the hymns that we sing, we must not be content that our hymns simply say the right things; we must also be certain that they say the right things in the right way.
  2. Learn to distinguish between forms that nurture noble affections and forms that excite base passions. Excitement and enthusiasm is not what we’re after in worship; rather, we should strive to encounter the True and Living God in the truth of his Word and then express ordinate affection to him through our hymns.
  3. Commit to cultivating the forms of the Judeo-Christian tradition. We cannot simply decide that we’re going to work harder at producing better hymns. We have to start somewhere, and the wisest course of action is to start within a tradition that got it right. Only then can we look to the future and hope to cultivate new forms worthy of expression to God.
  4. Commit to passing this tradition to our children. Where my greatest hope lies is with our children. Our children’s affections are still developing, and we have the weighty responsibility to shape them. We must refrain from feeding our children trite Christian nursery rhymes and begin to nurture their sensibilities with the music of the Judeo- Christian tradition. We have to mold their malleable hearts from the earliest of ages to love the right way. Even before they are capable of believing the right things or living the right way or even loving the right things, they can learn how to love rightly and what reverent worship feels like. We must commit to nurturing our youngest children in the fear of the Lord. They are our greatest hope in the conservation of biblical worship.
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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 Hymnody Today: What Do We Do?

  1. Number 3 there is excellent. No painter starts with the new, the startling, the avant garde. They learn the techniques of the masters. Same with musicians. Same with writers. Harold Bloom asserts that great poetry is as allusive as it is figurative. It converses with the poetic voices of the past. I wonder if the only way we can make our hymnody better is by "dialoguing" with the voices of our tradition, both inspired and uninspired.

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