Friday, March 13, 2009

More On Contemporary Church Music And Hymnody

Continuing from a previous post of mine: TheoPoetic Musings: Should Bob Dylan Become The Church's New Hymn Writer?.

Here are some other posts related to the subject of church music: Why Stackhouse Really Doesn’t Like New Worship Songs and Faith and Theology: The stupidest hymn ever written. Here is a highlight from the later post:
If you need any proof, Steve Holmes posts these amazing verses from the 18th century – this hymn probably deserves the title of the stupidest thing ever written (seriously, you could never find a contemporary hymn even remotely as stupid as this). It’s a stirring anti-Muslim tirade, written for the worship and edification of the saints:

The smoke of the infernal cave,
Which half the Christian world o’erspread,
Disperse, Thou heavenly Light, and save
The souls by that Impostor led,
That Arab-chief, as Satan bold,
Who quite destroy’d Thy Asian fold.

O might the blood of sprinkling cry
For those who spurn the sprinkled blood!
Assert Thy glorious Deity,
Stretch out Thine arm, Thou Triune God
The Unitarian fiend expel,
And chase his doctrine back to hell.

Try singing it to the tune of “When I Survey Thy Wondrous Cross.” It’s very moving: I always get goosebumps when I sing the line about the “Unitarian fiend.” So who do you think wrote this liturgical gem? Why, it was Charles Wesley himself – the greatest hymn-writer who ever lived! As Steve observes, Charles Wesley published about 6,000 hymns – today, we still sing perhaps 20 of them. What happened to the other 5980? They were sung for a while (like our own contemporary ditties), then mercifully forgotten.

And critics of Contemporary Church Music say that it's self-centered---but I guess this arrogant hymn is ok, because it echoes Psalm 137:9: "Blessed shall he be who takes your little ones and dashes them against the rock!" (ESV). Imagine anti-abortionist fundamentalists singing about bashing babies heads against the rocks in their churches.

See also: Do Hymns Really Possess Greater Depth?

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