For many years now, churches have been struggling with the issue of hymns and choruses. Which is better for the church to use? Typically, the older generation believes the church is missing the “foundation of the Faith” if they don’t sing hymns. And nearly everyone else believes they will loose the younger generation unless they “change with the times.”
I believe both are correct. Both Ephesians 5:19 – 20 and Colossians 3:16 urge believer to sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. These passages indicate three types of songs we should be singing. I believe each type has a specific purpose.
Psalms are described in Scripture as music that sings praise to God, accompanied by the plinking of stringed instruments (Psalms 33:3, 43:4, 71:22, and many other references.) King David is well known for paying a stringed instrument while singing praises to God. In fact, when he payed his harp for King Saul, the evil spirits would flee (I Samuel 16: 18, 23). David set the pace in using psalms to praise God, and God called him a man after His own heart (I Sam. 13:14). The longest book in the Bible is a book of songs in praise to God. It should b clear to every Christian that singing praises to God has a definite place in our effort to worship Him. But what about hymns?
Hymns can be simply defined as songs about HIM! While psalms are praises to God, hymns remind us of His attributes, what He has done for us, and Who He is. They basically teach doctrine. Read the words to some of the great hymns of faith and you will see what I mean: “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God!” “Great Is Thy Faithfulness!” “Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me!” The list is nearly endless. Should we ignore these truly great truths of the faith? May it never be! We need to continually be reminded Who made us and and why we should praise Hum. HYmns are the foundation of and the reason for our praises.
Spiritual songs can best be described as songs that deal with life from a Biblical perspective. There are many issues in life that we need to hear from a Christian point of view. If Christians don’t sing about issues like love and romance, hope, racism and abortion, then the only songs on these issues will come from an ungodly perspective. Look what happened to movie and television programming when Christians shunned Hollywood instead of embracing it! Now we are trying desperately to have our voice heard in these godless mediums. This is just as true in the music industry.
While the purpose of all this music may be clear, many in the church struggle with the beat or drive of some songs. Think about it this way. Praise music tends to call for an active response from the singer: “I Could Sing of Your Love Forever,” “I Just Want to Thank you,” “To Be Like Jesus Is My Desire,” etc., the accompanying music is often more active. Some people refer to this as music with a beat or tension. On the other hand, hymns don’t usually call for an immediate response, but teach doctrine to be absorbed by the listener. So hymns generally have very little tension in their music. (The main exception that comes to mind is a march like “Onward Christian Soldiers.”)
It’s clear we need all these types of songs in our Christian lives. What we struggle with is the best way to use them. Could I suggest incorporating all three forms of music in your life? Use hymns to remember Who God is and what He has done for you. Use praise songs to to remind you to “get off your comfortable seat and live what you have been taught.” And use spiritual songs to remind you that God cares about the issues you face in your life and has something wise and promising to say about them.
From our archives: 4/1/0
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