Choosing Hymns

The church possesses two books to aid in worship: the Word of God and the hymnal. The Scriptures stand as the perfect and unwavering revelation of God throughout the ages. It is our rule, and the only infallible word on all matters of our faith and practice. The hymnal exists in submission to the authority of Scripture and assists the people of God in singing truth. Its songs are an ever-flowing stream, sung by people responding to God in worship.

Choosing hymns for the local church is a sacred task. Even when the hymnal used is electronic and lacks binding and pages, the practice of Christian singing remains vital. As Colossians 3:16 says,

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.

In this text, Paul teaches the Colossians the importance of singing in the local church. The hymns we sing are not to be chosen clumsily, but with intentionality and with care. Hymns have the ability to teach us, to admonish us, and to provoke our hearts to worship our Savior with thankfulness.

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The Wonder of the Word in Corporate Worship

As a child, I loved to sing in church. When we opened our hymnals, I understood, there was an emotional connection to what we were doing in song. I felt it. Glorious truth paired with stirring melody was a combination that connected with me deeply.

Some of the older women of the church would shed tears as they sang songs of God’s faithfulness. I remember the joy on my father’s face as he would bellow out truth, eyebrows raised on his forehead.

But when the singing concluded and we opened our bibles, I had difficulty feeling that same kind of connection. The Bible was much more complex than three verses of hymnody. The pages of Scripture didn’t seem to ring with the same raw emotion as a folk melody. I believed in inerrancy from childhood, and upheld the authority of Scripture, but I rarely felt deeply when we heard God’s word read or taught. Maybe you have experienced the same thing.

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