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Were some of our most beloved hymns written to drinking songs?

Were some of our most beloved hymns written to drinking songs?


see Hymns and “drinking songs”.

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.

8 Responses to Were some of our most beloved hymns written to drinking songs?

  1. Were some of our most beloved hymns written to drinking songs? The answer given is “No”. Let us assume that everyone agrees there. Then, my follow-up question would be: “Why would it be so bad if they had been?” And from there I would follow up with the questions: “If they had been, would there have been any sin involved? If so, why?” and, “If they had been, would that somehow have tainted, damaged, or sullied (a) the Gospel Message, and/or (b) the music, and/or (c) the Church of God? If so, why?” And I would ask, “If someone somehow sinned or neglected the Word of God or neglected the Church of God, could you prove it?” And, I’d also ask: “If someone were to convert S (S being a secular song about drinking beer), into W (W being a Christian Worship or Praise song), then did someone ever sin in the process? No? Then what’s the issue?”

    Supposing for a moment that copyrighted lyrics or melodies or choruses, trademarks, or Library of Congress copyrights were not an issue whatsoever, I would ask: “If we were to set a Christian worship song to the tune of “‘ Got Friends In Low Places’ by Garth Brooks, then would we have been in any way mischievous, ignorant, or sinful, then how so?”

    If we cannot demonstrate that anyone is automatically sinning in the process, then I believe we must ask: “Really? How so? Please elucidate.”

    I’d be interested in responses to my questions. Thanks for allowing me to post.

  2. And I’d like to ask that if we borrow from secular-type cartoon configurations/forms/attributes/characteristics/mediums and make Christian cartoon programs out of them, is that also wrong? How so?

  3. Todd, the original article is in response to those who toss out the drinking songs canard in rebuttal to arguments about whether a given form is appropriate or not for worship.

    As to your cartoon question, I’ll just respond that “modes of saying are modes feeling that impact the mode in which something is understood.”

  4. I am not attempting to re-write history. If Luther never borrowed from drinking songs, then no problem. But we must ask: If *we* borrow from drinking songs, then why is that a problem? Are we somehow sinning in doing so?

    In response to my questions, let’s suppose that it were countered with the statement that “You’re making the mistake of not acknowledging that all Christians are sinners and we’re all a product of Adam’s sin, and that we are infallible creatures unable to attain to God’s high standards, and in fact God says even our best contributions are as filthy rags in His sight, — and therefore we can’t expect to be perfect with anything” I would counter with: “So what? Does that mean therefore that the Lord Christ Jesus forbids us to create, act, serve, educate, lead, assist, be cheerful, make friends with secular people, write, and so on? Really? How so?”

  5. Nobody is telling you you can’t borrow drinking songs. :)

    I’ll bet however you wouldn’t want to borrow the melody of a high profile song glorifying drunkenness. Why bother.

    All Christians are works in progress. None of our creative works are “perfect”. Some are less flawed than others, though, no?

  6. I’d opine that such a tune as Brook’s would present a rather formidable obstacle to many of the worshippers present. Again, why bother?

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