« Commemorating Ordination 10: Dorrien the Historian; Wright or wrong on Romans; and James Denney | Main | Karl Barth and Hans Urs Von Balthasar 1: Disagreeing Allies »

September 14, 2007


andy goodliff

Jim, just to say the andy that commented on earlier posted wasn't me, but I enjoyed your response in this post nonetheless

Jim Gordon

Sorry Andy Goodliff - so who's the other Andy? I've removed the Goodliffian reference and apologise for attribution of comments to wrong Andy. Glad the actual Andy who left the comment visited and entered the conversation...which is probably going to continue!

stuart blythe

It wisnae me either - but you would know that because I am not called Andy but Stuart

jim gordon

Careful Stuart - Andy Stewart isn't a nomenclature you would easily live down!


Reading your post reminded me of somehting I read a couple of years back on the 17th century deabte (polite description thereof) among English Particular Baptists over the singing of hymns. Aside from the concerns over their being a "humane invention" and the use of "preprinted formes" as decidely iffy, one of the concerns was over who who sang and who joined in. Marlow, who didn't like this singing stuff, could just about tolerate a solist singing a psalm whilst Keach, the advocate (and writer of diabolic drivel) was keen for whole congregations to sing together.

One of the hair-splitting debates was over whether or not as yet non-believers could be permitted to sing. Marlow was admant that Christains should not sing withunbeleivers; Keach reckoned that the unbelievers joined in with the believers (reminds me of the praying while drinking tea question, but that's another story). The question you rightly raise about the authenticity of the worship through singing was a big thing for these men.

The other much more contemporary story that comes to mind is that behind the song by Matt Redman "When the music fades," which I understand was written after a minister had had the courage to ban singing in services until the people had grasped something of what worship really was about.

Sorry, this is long and waffly. I have to confess that in my congregation I tend to refer to newer stuff as 'songs' because there are folk who on principle don't like "choruses" but assure me newer stuff is not "hymns." Maybe the apostle Paul anticipated all this with his refernece to "psalms, hymns and spiritual songs' giving us an ambiguity we've lived with ever since?!

andy goodliff

Worship songs/hymns are all of varying quality and I have been one who is quick to sigh at the banal music of recent years (there's simply too much that quality suffers). There is also a question of relevance, should our sung worship connect with those singing it? In the main I struggle to connect with many hymns (the pace, the tunes), despite enjoying their lyrical poetry and ability to express theologically.

Andy P

It was me - sorry to cause confusion. Jim, I agree with much of what you say. In practice, the challenge for me as the one responsible for planning worship is to make the whole service one which is "spiritually accessible, theologically coherent, emotionally congruous," recognising that different people respond to different things and what is evocative or provocative to one might not be to another.

For me, it is important that the hymns/songs fit within the context of the whole worship event. I'm not into the gratitous use of songs 'just because we like them.' Do they fit? Do they add to the flow of the service? What about a mix of moods? Do the hymns/songs complement whatever else is going on?

On Sunday, I pared 'Father God, I wonder' with 'Come see the Lord in his breathtaking splendour' just before communion. One I would characterise as a song, it is simple, popular and invites one sort of response; the other is definitely a hymn (although being contemporary) and much more weighty. One speaks of intimacy, the other of awe. One encourages a personal response, the other proclaims the Lordship of Christ whilst reflecting on incarnation, crucifixion, resurrection and ascension. I thought that they complemented each other admirably.

It also seems to me that at least some of what you say about music is also applicable to the rest of our public worship. Oh to hear prayers and sermons which are "spiritually accessible, theologically coherent, emotionally congruous," and in which "truth is expressed in artfully crafted phrases." But, of course, that widens the debate further :-)

One further point. I am aware that hymns I sung as a child (and as an adult) have accompanied me through life and are in some ways deeply embedded in my experience ('Thine be the glory,' which we also sung on Sunday, for instance). One of the advantages of this is that in times of spiritual struggle, I have a resource which is not merely theological or experiential but much deeper to draw from. I worry whether with the constantly changing menu of songs that is sung today whereby the average 'shelf life' of a song seems to get shorter and shorter, we are actually depriving the next generation of a similar resource. In some circles, it seems that the spiritual vitality of a congregation is measured by whether or not they are singing the latest worship 'hit.' Perhaps, the need to be at the cutting edge of worship is a sign of spiritual poverty? Discuss!


Yeah!!!!! The hat picture returns!!

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been saved. Comments are moderated and will not appear until approved by the author. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Comments are moderated, and will not appear until the author has approved them.

Your Information

(Name and email address are required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)

Currently reading

  • Paul Nimmo: Kenosis
  • Zahrnt: the question of god
  • harris: Act of oblivion

October 2023

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
1 2 3 4 5 6 7
8 9 10 11 12 13 14
15 16 17 18 19 20 21
22 23 24 25 26 27 28
29 30 31        
My Photo

Currently reading

  • Paul Nimmo: Kenosis
  • Zahrnt: the question of god
  • harris: Act of oblivion