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Category Archives: Church Music

Hengel: Hymns and Christology

Tim Henderson has now posted his summary of Martin Hengel’s essay, “Hymns and Christology.”

Spiritual Detox

Here is something to cleanse the palate before heading into the craziness of Thanksgiving/Black Friday.

We, who mystically represent the Cherubim,
And chant the thrice-holy hymn to the Life-giving Trinity,
Let us set aside the cares of life
That we may receive the King of all,
Who comes invisibly escorted by the Divine Hosts.


I’m Going to Give Johnny Cash the Last Word on Harold Camping

As much as I usually resist it, I find there’s still a lot of Bell County, Kentucky in my spiritual pilgrimage. So here’s to Southern gospel music, heart-felt religion, the hope of heaven, and good old fashioned meat-and-potatoes spirituality.

Now, off to church. The faithful gathered in Jesus’ name, the word of God proclaimed, the bread and the cup: Rapture!

A Rant from a Loser in the Worship Wars

Robert Webber used to paraphrase the ancient dictum lex orandi lex credendi (“the rule of prayer/worship is the rule of faith) as, “You show me how you worship and I’ll tell you what you believe.” I think Chaplain Mike of Internet Monk has hit upon a corollary: “You show me how you implement a change in worship and I’ll tell you if you’re a church in the first place.”

New (to Me) Worship Blog

The Daily Scroll is not strictly “daily,” but it does offer some very thoughtful articles on Christian worship from several contributors. Some recent offerings have been multi-parters on a capella singing (part one, part two) and Trinitarian worship (part one, part two). The blog is part of the Worshipedia.org website, which offers an abundance of resources for worship renewal.

New Church Music

Mark D. Roberts tells a story about what happens when a cutting-edge, “praise-and-worship” church pushes the envelope by introducing a new style of church music.

Crown Him the Lord of Grace

I love Mark D. Robert’s proposed new verse for “Crown Him with Many Crowns”! It is simply beautiful:

Crown Him the Lord of grace,
Messiah, chosen king,
Called as God’s servant to embrace
The way of suffering.
A thorny wreath of pain,
Pressed down upon his brow,
Foretells the time when he shall reign,
And every knee shall bow.

A perfect addition when singing this hymn during Holy Week and at other times when it is deemed worth remembering that the only crown Jesus ever actually wore was a crown of thorns.


Bosco Peters links to a fascinating video about the power of the pentatonic scale. I love it when bloggers add value when they link. In this case, the value added is the observation that singing in tongues, despite its randomness, harmonizes because the congregation is using the pentatonic scale, and “any combination of the pentatonic scale sounds great.” Nifty!

(The entire program from which this snippet came discusses how much of our appreciation of music is culturally determined and how much of it is “hard-wired” into our brains.)

In Praise of Hymnals

iMonk has begun what looks to be a lengthy series on “The Evangelical Liturgy.” His latest installment, among other things, sings the praises of the lowly hymnal:

The hymnal is a crucially important evangelical worship resource. While it can be supplemented, it should never be replaced. The education of a congregation to use and appreciate the resources in a hymnal will be the single post ecumenically broad, historically deep and theologically enriching experience most church members will have. There is more diversity, tradition, theology, church history and content in a good hymnal than almost any single book that you can put in the hands of a congregation. The hymnal represents and captures the journey of the church throughout history, and joins the worshiping congregation to the church around the world and throughout all time.

We are nothing short of idiots for getting rid of them, and I choose that word carefully. Who in the world decided that we would throw out two thousands years of worship because it didn’t fit in with our current plan to sound like the secular music of the last 40 years? Good grief, what a demolition job this has been. I know a lot of young people “like” the new music, but we have a responsibility to those who came before us, not to prefer or like what they did as much as they did, but to use it with respect and honor for the value that is in it. Handing the entire musical and lyrical heritage of two millenia of Christianity over to a “worship leader” to be eradicated in favor of contemporary music only is insane.

As a child, I spent hours in the hymnal during church. I learned vast amounts. Had the pastors and worship leaders used the resources of the hymnal wisely, it would have been even more enriching for me.

I’m looking forward to the arrival of the Celebrating Grace Hymnal, a project several members of my church (involved in the School of Music at Mercer University) are deeply involved in. It promises to be a truly ecumenical resource of older and newer music, from Christians all around the world (including a few hymns with original Spanish lyrics included!), from every era of Christian history, and from a great variety of denominational traditions.

I have also been assured that responsive readings and litanies will be correctly differentiated. We’ll see. 😉