The unifying theme of the Bible is God’s plan to dwell among His people. He promised in Leviticus 26.11-12, “I will make my dwelling among you, and my soul shall not abhor you. And I will walk among you and will be your God, and you shall be my people.” What an amazing thought that the transcendent Sovereign of the universe would personally dwell among finite creatures. Yet prophesy of the end times confirms, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God” (Revelation 21.3). But a holy God cannot dwell with sinners. In order for God to dwell with His people, they must be perfect as he is perfect.
The gospel of Jesus Christ is the solution to this problem. Jesus Christ is Immanuel — “God with us” (Matthew 1.23). The Son of God lived among men in order that He may atone for the sin of His people. He died in their place, rose victorious over sin and death, and now stands as their advocate at the throne of God. Those who repent and trust in him are declared righteous and may have confidence in a future where God will indeed personally dwell with them.
The hymns of the Church have always provided a wonderful means of proclaiming this good news. Rich, gospel-centered hymn texts serve to reveal important biblical truths to the minds of unbelievers and believers alike.
But good hymns serve another important purpose: they teach us which affections form appropriate responses to the truths of the gospel. It is not enough to simply intellectually assent to biblical truth; worship is an appropriate response of the spirit — the affections — to that truth (John 4). Good hymns teach us those appropriate affections. They are, in the words of Martin Luther, the “mistress of the emotions.” And then good hymns give us a language to express those affections to the Lord when mere words are inadequate.
Our burden with this album is to introduce and re-introduce good hymnody, both ancient and modern, that best serves these purposes. These hymns profoundly proclaim the precious truths of the gospel. These hymns beautifully package those truths with ordinate affections through their musical settings. And these hymns offer the believer a language for expressing these right affections as we consider the good news of God with us.