Friday, July 23, 2010

The importance of hymn doctrine

The SandyAnglicans Twitter feed reposted a tweet praising Anglican hymns — which brought me to the blog of Toby Brown, a theologically traditionalist member of the Presbyterian Church USA.

Sure enough, Brown lists The English Hymnal of 1906 as one of the two greatest (English language) hymnals of all time. The other was the 1835 Southern Harmony, a compilation of 18th and 19th century hymns that was the most used hymnal of the US South for the remainder of the century.

Baptist Hymnal (Slate Blue)However, what really interesting (and instructive) was Brown’s quoting of an AP article about how the Southern Baptists appointed a committee of theologians to review the doctrinal content of the 650 hymns being included in the 2008 Baptist Hymnal.

To quote Brown quoting the AP story
Each song's suitability is based on these questions:
  • Does the hymn speak biblically of God?
  • Is it God-honoring?
  • Does the hymn present a biblical view of man?
  • Does the song help us to cover the depth and breadth of our theology?
  • Does the hymn call us to true discipleship, service, repentance, witness, missions and devotion?
  • Does the hymn speak biblically of salvation?
  • Does it engage the whole person - allowing a person to express his deepest feelings?
  • Does the hymn emphasize that Christ is the Christian's Lord, Master and King? (the idea of total submission)
  • Does the hymn present an Americanized/Westernized gospel? (civil religion)
  • Is there a balance with corporate and individual response in worship? (immanence and transcendence)
  • Does the hymn speak biblically about the church, the body of Christ?
I am not sure that would be my exact list, but most ask the key questions that need to be asked for any Christian hymnal. Let’s hope the next North American Anglican hymnal goes through a similar process.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I oppose to the criterion of a hymn presenting the Americanized Gospel or Westernized Gospel ! Is there such discrimination still concerning the Gospel ? Is it not the Gospel for the Jews and Gentiles ? Should it be that for Americans only? How about British people? African people ? Other people ?