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Hymns can be pretty bad too

Discussion in 'General Theology' started by ViaCrucis, Sep 2, 2014.

  1. ViaCrucis

    ViaCrucis Evangelical Catholic of the Augsburg Confession

    United States
    In Relationship
    It's fairly common for those of us in liturgical or otherwise hymn-oriented churches to complain about bad worship music in the modern Praise and Worship genre. But let's be fair, it's not exactly like every hymn we sing is a gem.

    On Sunday one of the hymns we sang was Will You Come and Follow Me

    Will you come and follow Me, The Summons. a Christian song of following a calling from God - YouTube

    My opinion? Blech!

    Firstly, I'm just not a fan of singing "in the voice of God/Jesus". Don't get me wrong, I'm not against the basic sentiment of this song--Christ's call for His Church to go out into the world. But it seems like a really strange thing for us to be singing on Sunday morning. It'd work better as a folk tune around a campfire.

    What exactly is going on when we sing something like this? Are we reminding God that He called us to do good in the world, why?

    So I'm officially putting this on my "hymns I can do without" list.

    What are some of your least favorite hymns? And why?

    Note: A hymn is distinct from a praise chorus. Hymns are a set of lyrical stanzas all set to the same meter. If between verses there's a repeated chorus, it's a praise chorus rather than a hymn. Hymns don't have to be old, this one I've mentioned from what I looked up was written in 1987, and a hymn I really do love, In Christ Alone, was written in 2001.

    And just to rile up some feathers, I have a theological bone to pick with How Great Thou Art (and is it really a hymn if it has that repeated refrain?), it's that final stanza:

    "When Christ shall come with shout of acclamation
    And take me home, what joy shall fill my heart!
    Then *I shall bow in humble adoration,
    And there proclaim, My God, how great thou art!"

    You might think, "Well, what's wrong with that?" The issue here, I think, is perhaps subtle. It's not the joy of Christ's coming, it's "And take me home". Here this song has laid out the glory of God in His creation, the beauty of the stars in the heavens, the terrible thunder, the fields and woods and birds. And then, at the end it's, "God take me from this world!"

    It's that escapist theology that managed to trickle down into Western Christianity within the last couple hundred years, away from God's condescension to rescue and restore the world, to God is taking us out from the world to live away from the world in the sweet by-and-by.

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  2. bbbbbbb

    bbbbbbb Guest

    I have disliked "Must Jesus Bear the Cross Alone" because of its implication that we are co-redeemers with Jesus and that without us the world could not be saved.

    Must Jesus bear the cross alone,
    And all the world go free?
    No, there’s a cross for everyone,
    And there’s a cross for me.

    How happy are the saints above,
    Who once went sorrowing here!
    But now they taste unmingled love,
    And joy without a tear.

    The consecrated cross I’ll bear
    Till death shall set me free;
    And then go home my crown to wear,
    For there’s a crown for me.

    Upon the crystal pavement down
    At Jesus’ piercèd feet,
    Joyful I’ll cast my golden crown
    And His dear name repeat.

    O precious cross! O glorious crown!
    O resurrection day!
    When Christ the Lord from Heav’n comes down
    And bears my soul away.
  3. ChristsSoldier115

    ChristsSoldier115 Mabaho na Kuya

    In Relationship
    Wow.. all the popular churches around here doesn't sing hymnals anymore.. other than the christian staple song: Amazing grace. I wish I could remember any to gripe about one.

    The church I grew up in still sings hymnals from the hymnal books though. Been so long since I've heard one that I'd be too nostalgic upon hearing any I don't think I could complain.
  4. James Is Back

    James Is Back CF's Official Locksmith

    That sounds very folkish(the video you posted). There are some old fashion hymns I still like. For instance The Old Rugged Cross is one of my favorite old hymns. I do prefer choir/choral hymns and chants like Gregorian chants.
  5. MoreCoffee

    MoreCoffee Repentance works.

    It seems that hymn books are not being bought by many churches which is a pity. The tradition of singing songs that Christians have sung for centuries is being lost in those churches and that is a very sad loss indeed.
  6. Melethiel

    Melethiel Miserere mei, Domine Supporter

    I have a quibble with your definition of hymn vs praise song, specifically, the presence of a chorus. I would agree with the definition of a set of lyrics set to a metrical stanza. However, would you define Adeste Fidelis as a praise song as opposed to a hymn just because it has a refrain? If you would, I object to that definition. I would say that in a praise CHORUS, the refrain takes priority over the verses (and can be repeated up to 15 times), as opposed to a hymn where if there is a refrain, it is almost an afterthought .
  7. Mama Kidogo

    Mama Kidogo Τίποτα νέο μυθιστόρημα τίποτα

    Eastern Orthodox
    In a day and time when folks think songs have to rhyme, I give the modern songs a bit of latitude.
    Try singing the Psalms. Then you can be spot on.
  8. Tangible

    Tangible Decision Theology = Ex Opere Operato

    United States
    My Baptist mother of blessed memory sang this to me as a lullaby. Now that I understand the words, I cringe. It makes God's presence and love sound totally conditional and something to be earned. It also says that if we are obedient, we will always be happy, which simply is not true.

    1. When we walk with the Lord in the light of His Word,
      What a glory He sheds on our way!
      While we do His good will, He abides with us still,
      And with all who will trust and obey.
      • Refrain:
        Trust and obey, for there’s no other way
        To be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.
    2. Not a shadow can rise, not a cloud in the skies,
      But His smile quickly drives it away;
      Not a doubt or a fear, not a sigh or a tear,
      Can abide while we trust and obey.
    3. Not a burden we bear, not a sorrow we share,
      But our toil He doth richly repay;
      Not a grief or a loss, not a frown or a cross,
      But is blessed if we trust and obey.
    4. But we never can prove the delights of His love
      Until all on the altar we lay;
      For the favor He shows, for the joy He bestows,
      Are for them who will trust and obey.
    5. Then in fellowship sweet we will sit at His feet,
      Or we’ll walk by His side in the way;
      What He says we will do, where He sends we will go;
      Never fear, only trust and obey.
  9. Melethiel

    Melethiel Miserere mei, Domine Supporter

    With that said, hymns that I dislike:

    Thine the Amen. Just kill me. Even worse that the LSB setting 4 has the tune a the setting of the Sanctus. Inane words and even more inane tune. Sounds like a carnival ride.

    God Loves Me Dearly (this is just mostly the tune, but falls into the larger category of children's songs stuck into the liturgy. Like when Jesus Loves Me is the hymn of the day.)

    I am Content, my Jesus Ever Lives (content? That's the best you could come up with?)

    How Sweet the Name of Jesus Sounds (just don't like it)

    Jesus has Come and Brings Pleasure (just read the title. Snicker. Granted, that's just a horrid translation of the original German)

    Just a I Am (but that could just be the association with altar calls, and it's categorization under justification in the hymns. Perhaps recategorized as a Eucharistic hymn?)

    What Is This Bread (written by Dr Seuss?)

    I'm but a Stranger Here, Heaven is my Home (no it's not)

    Earth and All Stars ( fine until you get to the test tubes)

    (Also, would you call Lift High the Cross a praise chorus?)
  10. ChristsSoldier115

    ChristsSoldier115 Mabaho na Kuya

    In Relationship
    We three kings is one I dislike. I feel like I am going to fall asleep everytime I hear it. Also, I cannot listen to it the same way ever since that california raisins christmas special.
  11. To add to what my wife said (I agree with all her choices):

    First off, I really just don't like it when adults sing children's hymns in the context of a church service. Catechetical hymns are fine (and most of them are set to robust hymn tunes), but Jesus Loves Me, Away in a Manger, God Loves Me Dearly, and I Am Jesus' Little Lamb are all very cute in that way that makes grown men uncomfortable.

    With that said, I have one addition to my wife's list: The Lamb (LSB 547). According to her it's "not a hymn" (even though it fits her definition- it just should be played on the piano and she's an organ snob), so she didn't include it, but we both agree that it sounds like Dr. Seuss wrote it. Like What Is This Bread, the lyrics aren't doctrinally bad, but they're just horrid as lyrics.

    Honorable mention goes to Amazing Grace. It's not horrible, it's not even bad, but it gets overdone. It just isn't that great. I'm not sure what it is that made it the most popular hymn in the English-speaking world, but evangelicals seem to play it whenever they want to seem 'folksy,' and it just needs to stop.
  12. Ladybythelake

    Ladybythelake Guest

    I like Amazing Grace because it describes my experience. Didn't it get added to the Lutheran hymnal in the 80's (LW)? Hardly sounds like enough time to tire of it!
  13. ViaCrucis

    ViaCrucis Evangelical Catholic of the Augsburg Confession

    United States
    In Relationship
    I wasn't entirely sure how to draw the line at what is a hymn and what isn't. The definition I presented was more-or-less what I saw other sources say. Hence my confusion over whether having a repeated refrain was acceptable or not.

    Being that I'm not well versed in the science of music, I would happily submit to others' definitions here.

    I was mostly just trying to make sure that we stick to hymns and not veer off toward praise choruses.

    Also to keep contributing, while I haven't heard it sung since I was an Evangelical/Pentecostal, I want to add As The Deer. I know it's based off a psalm, but still. Maybe it's just that I think we sang it almost every Sunday, and it was sung at every youth group event I attended during high school. I'd rather sing just about anything, really anything, else.

  14. bbbbbbb

    bbbbbbb Guest

    Actually, the Psalter our church uses has reworded the Psalms so that they have a regular meter and do rhyme, while retaining the meaning quite well. I am frankly impressed that it could be done.
  15. James Is Back

    James Is Back CF's Official Locksmith

    I wouldn't call that a hymn more like a carol.
  16. faroukfarouk

    faroukfarouk Fading curmudgeon

    If with CI Scofield, JN Darby and others, one helds dispensationally to the distinction between Jews, Gentiles and the church of God, then the church has nothing to aspire to politically, by way of hoping that the nations will come around to the Bible's way of thinking.
  17. ViaCrucis

    ViaCrucis Evangelical Catholic of the Augsburg Confession

    United States
    In Relationship
    I don't know that my critique against escapist theology has anything to do with the Church aspiring to something political. Rather it has to do with the fact that God's mission into and for the world is its redemption. Christianity is not about escaping from the created world into a sweet ethereal yonder, but about the good Creator God who having come into the world in and by the Person of Jesus is setting the world to rights--that what happened in Jesus is what God is going to do for the world. Our hope, therefore, is not to sneak away to heaven at death or be zapped away at some rapture; our hope is that because Christ having died once and for all has risen from the dead, and therefore there is resurrection, life in spite of death, for you, for me, for the whole of creation.

    And when we change the focus away from what Christ has done, and God's purposes in Christ, and what the Gospel actually is and reduce it to nothing more than, "Going to some heavenly place above the clouds" then the Christian Gospel becomes little more than just another kind of ordinary religion that involves avoiding the bad consequences and hoping for the good; and is fundamentally no different than the ancient Pagans talking about Elysium or Valhalla.

  18. PaladinValer

    PaladinValer Traditional Orthodox Anglican

    One of my guilty favorites actually ;)
  19. Lion King

    Lion King Veni, vidi, vici

    Christian Seeker

    Just goes to show, you cannot please everyone. You could write the perfect worship song, but some folks out there will always have something to complain about.

    Personally, I don't see nothing wrong with people calling themselves foreigners in this world and wishing to go home.
  20. But heaven is not our home. Our home is the future yet to come.

    In any case, these hymns are hardly 'perfect.'