6 Reasons We Shouldn’t Use Hymnals Anymore

...and why I don't find any of those reasons compelling.

“Hymnals are intended to be a collective statement of faith for the denomination or group that adopts it. The theological content of our singing is certainly stronger when we have a primary resource that’s been examined, vetted, and solidified on that basis.”   A year ago yesterday I wrote a post about hymnals. A lot of people read... Continue Reading

Hymns We Should Sing More Often: Guide Me, O Thou Great Jehovah

Unfortunately, for a growing number of churches, there are no hymnals in the pews (or on the chairs), and consequently there is little opportunity to draw from the deep well of Christian hymnody.

“Guide Me, O My Great Jehovah” is Williams’ most famous hymn. It compares the life of the believer with that of the Israelites during their 40 year wilderness wanderings in the “barren land”, and makes illusions to manna (“bread of heaven”), the crystal fountain, the fire and cloudy pillar, the Jordan River, and crossing over... Continue Reading

The Glory of Historic Hymns

Omitting older hymns in our gatherings silences the rich voices of church history

“When I mention historic hymns, maybe you cringe as you recall a “worship war” in your local church. Maybe you’re eager to only sing the old hymns. Or maybe you wonder why it is important at all. My aim is not to renew local church disputes or bolster mere sentimentality, but to commend something else... Continue Reading

Hymns We Should Sing More Often: “God Moves”

“God Moves in A Mysterious Way” encourages us to trust in God’s sovereignty in our lives, to cling to Christ in all our trials and sufferings

Cowper wrote “God Moves in a Mysterious Way” in 1773 before he fell into a deep depression. In the mysterious providence of God this hymn has brought comfort and hope to countless believers who, like Cowper, struggle through the long dark night of the soul.   This is part of an intermittent series I’ve called... Continue Reading

Hymns We Should Sing More Often: Hallelujah, Praise Jehovah, O My Soul

This is part of an intermittent series I’ve called “Hymns We Should Sing More Often.”

Psalm 146, from which this hymn, Hallelujah, Praise Jehovah, O My Soul, is taken, highlights the delightful and hopeful side of spiritual experience: God is to be praised because he is utterly trustworthy, faithful, powerful, compassionate, and just. The psalm begins and ends with “Hallelu Yah!” “Praise Jehovah!” The main body of the psalm encourages us... Continue Reading

A Call for Musically Gifted Pastors

If you believe God’s called and gifted you to serve the church with your music vocationally, I want to suggest that you consider whether God’s calling you to be a pastor as well

“Of course, not every musician who leads congregational singing should or will be a pastor. But if you hope to join a church staff some day, I want to suggest six reasons why preparing to be a pastor who’s also a musician is better than simply aiming to be a worship leader.”   In 2008, I suggested in Worship Matters... Continue Reading

Hymns We Should Sing More Often: ‘Stricken, Smitten, And Afflicted’

Most of the hymns in this series are not unfamiliar, just underutilized

Thomas Kelly (1769-1855) wrote more than 750 hymns, including Stricken, Smitten, And Afflicted in 1804. Kelly planned to be a lawyer but after his conversion the Irishman decided to enter the ministry. He was ordained as an Anglican priest in 1792, but later became a “dissenting” minister.   This is part of an intermittent series... Continue Reading

A Calling to Redeem Rap Music

Faith leaders and Christian musicians can't ignore "hip hop" music if they want to remain relevant

“How do you make music that feels authentically Christian and authentically hip hop at the same time, when so many of the messages commonly heard in hip hop are at odds with a Christian worldview that opposes violence, substance abuse, and promiscuity?”   “We don’t challenge any heresy in the church!” John Perkins declared at... Continue Reading

Hymns We Should Sing More Often: Holy God, We Praise Your Name

"Holy God, We Praise Your Name" is based on the fourth century Latin hymn "Te Deum Laudamus"

“This is the first installment of an intermittent series I’ve called “Hymns We Should Sing More Often.” The aim is to remind us (or introduce for the first time) excellent hymns that are probably not included in most church’s musical canon.”   A few people reading this post can remember World War II. The rest... Continue Reading

The Day God Spoke To Katy Perry

Anytime someone – a pop-star, televangelist, or six year old boy – says, “God said to me…” we’re forced to decide yea or nay

“Did God speak to Katy Perry? Does he tell the televangelist to raise money? Did a little boy have a transcendent experience of heaven? If so, we’re compelled to listen. I, however, am compelled by biblical conviction to say, “Absolutely not!” But to my evangelical friends who may not agree with me, I would simply... Continue Reading