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.
Early Christian hymnody was influenced by the tradition of psalm singing in the temple. The hymns of the New Testament church served both a doxological and an apologetic function.
Though the New Testament does not give any detailed information on the structure of the first Christian services, it leaves little room for doubt concerning the basic elements of primitive worship: prayer, praise, confession of sin, confession of faith, Scripture reading and preaching, the Lord’s Supper, and the collection. Early descriptions of Christian worship, such as that in Justin’s Apology, reveal a close similarity to the practice of the synagogue. Even without the synagogue model, however, the fundamental elements would surely have found a place, and distinctive Christian features would have their own origin.