The most common use of poetry in worship is the singing of poems as hymns. Despite their common use, however, hymn texts are rarely thought of in terms of their poetic qualities. Yet hymn writers are among the finest wordsmiths the church has known. Appreciating their art enriches the experience of all who sing.
The choosing of hymns relevant to worship requires thoughtful planning and creativity. Here are several principles of hymn selection and use that contribute to an enriched experience of worship.
The growth of a huge body of contemporary songs and choruses for worship challenges each congregation to evaluate their musical repertoire and the criteria by which they select it. This article describes some of the theological perspectives important in this process and then describes many of the types of songs and choruses that have been composed in recent years.
One way of singing hymns creatively involves singing in canon. This article defines what a canon is and how it can be used to foster imaginative congregational singing.
The choosing of hymns relevant to worship requires thoughtful planning and creativity. Here are several principles of hymn selection and use that contribute to an enriched experience of worship. Choosing music for the worship service is both a privilege and a challenge. The first step is the selection of hymns that reflect the assigned Scriptures. … Read more How to Select Hymns
From the beginning of the New Testament experience, the believer’s response to Jesus Christ has included song. Most of the New Testament songs or hymns have found their way into the enduring liturgy of the church, including the Magnificat, the Benedictus, the Gloria, and the Nunc Dimittis. New Testament music in worship included psalmody, hymns composed in the church, and spiritual songs—alleluias and songs of jubilation or ecstatic nature. Further, many of the elements characteristic of later liturgical practice are rooted in New Testament actions and elements of worship.
But while we smile at some of our preferences, our religious preferences are often quite a different matter. For some reason, our own particular religious traditions and experiences tend to color our ideas of what God’s preferences are and aren’t. Nowhere is this more true than in the area of worship styles. How quickly our preferences become biases. And how easily our biases become walls that keep us from the larger body of Christ and from fuller expressions of worship.
The Revelation to John makes dramatic use of the rich symbolism of the sacrificial ritual of the Jewish temple. A comparison of the language and imagery of the book of Revelation with the Divine Liturgy of the Orthodox churches suggests that in the Revelation we see an early stage in the development of Christian liturgy, especially that of the Eastern churches.
New Testament hymns to Christ celebrate what he did before Creation, his mission of incarnation and reconciliation, and his present exalted position as Lord of the universe. In so doing, they counter heretical ideas that were influencing some segments of the early church.
Although the New Testament says little about music making, it is clear that the worship life of the early church was characterized by the use of psalms and other forms of song.