I listened to a very good lecture by Albert Mohler on Martin Luther and his influence on hymns this morning.
I’ve never really been much of a hymn lover. Honestly I just don’t like the music behind many of the hymns, just not my cup of tea really. But the last few years I have really been appreciating hymns, not because my musical taste is changing (I will always be a rocker at heart);but the words of many of them, and Doctor Mohler really hit the nail on the head concerning the importance of hymns in his lecture.
He talked about one the usages that Martin Luther used with hymns was the fact that he wanted them to be a tool to teach – not just the Gospel, but sound biblical theology. And that is what I appreciate so much about some of the hymns – many of them are rich in theology.
It’s sad that we live in a day that people just don’t want to be taught in church about God – they just want to experience Him. Not only in their songs, but also in the sermons that they listen too. So many times the Jesus that is often sung and preached about is the “bearded girl-friend” variety. So what we have is people filling churches for some emotional “intimacy” and not really worshiping the Father in Spirit and in truth.
But just reading through the words of some of the old hymns, really exposes us to the Gospel and pure sound doctrine. There is a phrase that I often repeat when I confess my sin to God (being the modern “chief of all sinners” I sin often and greatly). After my confession I often say this line from a hymn, “my hope is built on nothing less than Jesus blood and righteousness.” Simple words that doesn’t need any improvement on my part – but oh how powerful those words are.
I’m not knocking the newer choruses, actually I happen to like the style of many of them. But I’ve decided a few months ago to become very selective in the songs that I lead in the church I Pastor. I have cut out the “Jesus is my bearded girl-friend” type of songs. I try to find songs that are either Gospel-saturated and rich in theological depth. One modern worship singer has many great songs that are filled with both – Chris Tomlin. We do sing quite a bit of his songs in our church.
I’ve also incorporated a few of the older hymns back into our worship set. Some I’ve tried the “update the music” thing. For some songs it does work, for others, I think updating gets in the way, so I’ve gone back to playing and singing the way it was originally intended on a few of them. It’s a growing process, learning by trial and error.
I guess what I’m trying to say is the older I get, the more I appreciate the great hymns of the church. Let’s bring back the teaching of God’s great truths, not just in the sermons, but in the songs as well.