Guarding the The Church’s Song

Be vigilant to fight the commodification of the church’s song. Resist anything that blunts the fullness of the Christian gospel. Do not squelch the dimly burning wicks of voices at the margins whose songs may not otherwise be heard. Resist cultural imperialism. Embrace ways of creating, curating, receiving, and singing songs that demonstrate the shalom of God’s way in the world.

—John Witvliet, “Foreword,” in Walter A. Brueggemann, A Glad Obedience: Why and What We Sing (Kindle Locations 99-102)

Sing to the Lord (2)

Congregational singing, judged by the norms of our market culture, is an absurd enterprise: a group of intrepid people eagerly lining out poetry filled with archaic images and metaphors reflective of a prescientific worldview and singing ancient memories, hopes, and mysteries that contradict the “reason of the age.” Such singing, when done intentionally, is perfectly countercultural.

—Walter Brueggemann, A Glad Obedience: Why and What We Sing, Kindle Location 123-126

 

 

 

Hymns with Purpose

May all who use these hymns experience, at all times, the blessed effects of complying with the Apostle Paul’s injunction (Eph. 5:18, 19), “Be filled with the Spirit, speaking to yourselves in psalms, and hymns, and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord.” Yea, may they anticipate, while here below, though in a humble and imperfect strain, the song of the blessed above, who, being redeemed out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation, and having washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb, are standing before the throne, and singing in perfect harmony with the many angels about it (Rev. 5:9-12 and 7:9-14), “Worthy is the Lamb that was slain, to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honor, and glory, and blessing, for ever and ever. Amen!”

Moravian Hymnal (1789)