I Still Want Our Hymns Back

As I was doing research for a Bible study, I came across some articles and commentaries about the hallel.  It was a collection of songs that Jews would sing during their festivals and holidays.  These songs have been sung by the Jewish people year after year for thousands of years.  They were written to commemorate stories of Israel’s past that she wasn’t to forget.  They were written to praise God for His work during those stories.  They were written to unite the people who sing them.  Those songs, they would say, are “ours.”

I can’t fathom that.  Aside from the Star Spangled Banner and God Bless America there aren’t any songs that we, as Americans, can call “ours.”  Some may say that the same is true for the Western Church, but I would disagree… for now.   I think hymns are “our” songs, but as I mentioned in an earlier post, I think hymns are quickly disappearing from our worship services. No one is wondering about “our” songs anymore.  If anything, we are now talking more about “my” songs and “your” type of music.  This reality doesn’t unite the church, it divides it.  If it continues, I believe it will only continue to fragment the church and keep us from a unity that is only found in ancient cultures.

Can you think of one song that could be earnestly and rapturously sung in every church in the world (aside from Christmas carols)?  A song that every believer would know by heart no matter what language you spoke or what country you lived in?  A song that has been sung throughout the ages and handed down from father to son?

The sheer volume of praise and worship songs out there makes it difficult for any of them to become a song that unites the Body of Christ.  Even if they do reach the heights of popularity, their stay there is typically short lived as the song is overplayed and then quickly replaced by the next song climbing the charts.  And there’s also our ever-important preferences that drive our music selection.  Instead of writing music that appeals to the entire church, we are now writing songs that appeal to ‘my’ type of church or ‘your’ type of congregation.  And the fact that people write these new songs as part of their job and work for record companies that force them to write more music only complicates the matter further.

Though I certainly believe that any song, old or new, could very easily become one of “our” songs, I don’t understand why we would be writing new ones when we have perfectly good hymns that are gathering dust.  We certainly don’t need to eliminate contemporary songs, I’d just prefer to not see “our” songs get lost in the litany of ‘my’ songs.  I want our hymns back.  We need our hymns back.

2 thoughts on “I Still Want Our Hymns Back

  1. I’m totally with you Matt! I grew up on and amsuch a big fan of hymns, and I’m sad that we don’t see more. I think “Amazing Grace” could be “our song” since it was written by John Newton and goes back to American roots. I can just remember when we were in Israel in 2008 at Ceaserea when the Korean pastor was singing Amazing Grace in Korean and then sang the last phrase in English. Still gives me chills!

  2. I’m glad someone else enjoys hymns as much as I do. It’s funny, at Denton Bible the morning services are considered more traditional because we sing hymns and maybe one more contemporary song. However there is a night service, that’s geared more towards college students because they tend to just play contemporary songs. I find that I’m usually the only one of my friends who frequently attends the morning service, but that’s probably because I grew up on hymns at church and school.

    Hymnal Friday in choir class was hands down my favorite.

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