Wednesday, October 21, 2009

What Makes Bad Hymns Bad?

Quoting Pastor Richard Stuckwisch, on his September 28 appearance on Issues, Etc., discussing the historic hymns of the Church:

If a hymn is ambiguous, that is to say if it’s unclear what it’s saying, or if it’s saying anything, why use the Church’s time to sing it? Maybe, you know, if it’s a song that’s fun to sing, okay, then maybe people can sing it in the car, or at home, the way they listen to the radio, but if it’s gonna function as a hymn it needs to say something and it needs to say it in such a way that it has clarity and integrity and actually is pointing people to Christ and to the Gospel. If a hymn doesn’t do that, it really isn’t a good hymn. There are hymns that say things that are true, hymns that even say things that come right out of the Bible but are not good hymns because they’re not properly dividing the Law and the Gospel. So they’re focusing on the Law in such a way that the Gospel is not heard, or they’re focusing on the Law in such a way that people are pointed not to Christ but to themselves, or they seek to praise God in a way that actually ends up focusing on the singer rather than on the Savior. These are just some examples, but those kinds of characteristics are part of what makes bad hymns bad hymns.

Listen to the whole program:

photo credit: Leo Reynolds

1 comment:

Amberg said...

Stuckwisch touches on a point that I think is very important; hymns are like sermons. Just as a sermon can be completely orthodox in its doctrine but fail to be a Christian sermon because it does not properly distinguish between law and Gospel, so a hymn, which is to "teach", according to Paul, should meet the same criterion.

Thanks for your grade, btw. Encouraging.