I'm going through some of my grandfather's old papers at the moment for a history project (which involves researching our heritage through primary sources), and I've come across some gold nuggets on hymns. Check out these thoughts:
- 'Not all rhyming verses set to music are hymns, even if printed in a hymn book. Some hardly deserve any place at all in corporate worship. But mark well those which exalt God and his Christ in direct praise and adoration. This is the kind of hymn the Christians of Pliny's day addressed to Christ at day-break.'
- 'the selection of hymns, in general, needs to be undertaken with regard for the place in the service where they come. We sing far too many hymns Three is a maximum for most services. It is too easy to destroy coherence in a service, and to distract from what has just been said or read, by an ill-chosen hymn. There is a place for hymns of recitation, declaring the mighty deeds of God, and hymns expressive of trust and hope and of mutual exhortation. Butt heir selection requires sensitivity and skill. Only the minister who orders the other details of the service can really select the hymns. The responsibility cannot be delegated to organists.' [grandpa was an organist, and a minister, so I guess he can say that!]
These quotes are from the 70s -- when liturgical reform was at its peak in the Anglican Church of Australia. Do you think we've gone backwards or forwards in the planning of our average services? I know at my church the organist does choose the hymns (her name is Nola and in her day she was a monster pianist). But she chooses them with such care and skill that I've often finished preaching a sermon, then found a hymn placed straight after it that says better than I have everything I wanted to say! Is that your experience?