The Theology of Song

"We Anglicans, like many other Christians, learn a fair amount of our theology through the hymns we sing"

~ N. T. Wright in For all the Saints? Remembering the Christian Departed (Continuum 2003) page xiv

This is the true reason for the deposition of the Book of Psalms, Hymns and Spiritual Songs in the Holy Scriptures from its pre-eminent position as the appointed music of the Church. Their theology does not suit our theology. The Rev. William Romaine stood against the tide in his own generation, when the pragmatist said that the hymns of Charles Wesley were necessary because people were so ignorant of any knowledge of God.

The nature of the worth we proclaim moulds us. If we praise God's tolerance at expense of his justice and if we praise God's love in the absence of his mercy, then we sing from a different hymn-sheet. This does not mean that Christians cannot write good songs. But they are not fit for God's worship. Our theology is too poor and the Lord God knew it in giving us songs for his worship. He leads us as children. If we stand on the table and pronounce that we are tall enough to look grown up and can now write songs for ourselves, we only show how childish we still are.

Whatever happened to Reformed worship?

Tim Challies is highlighting a free to download recording of The Church's One Foundation.

His introduction spells out how important hymns are to the Church, and especially as a means of teaching. He selects Exodus 15 as an example of this latter point, which is curious. The songs of Scripture, namely the Psalms, are designed (according to the Holy Scriptures) to record, thank and praise (see Rev. Romaine's Hymns Most Perfect for more information). They are not designed to teach. That might be a side effect, but it is not the purpose of songs. The song in Exodus 15 records, thanks and offers praise. It is a proclamation relating to the specific experiences of the Children of Israel - not a homeschooling sing-song to let the kids know what is going on and why.

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