Grace in the Arts: Toward Singing With The Understanding A Discussion of the Gospel Hymn—Part 2 -- By: Frances A. Mosher

Journal: Journal of the Grace Evangelical Society
Volume: JOTGES 05:2 (Autumn 1992)
Article: Grace in the Arts: Toward Singing With The Understanding A Discussion of the Gospel Hymn—Part 2
Author: Frances A. Mosher

Grace in the Arts:
Toward Singing With The Understanding
A Discussion of the Gospel Hymn—Part 2

Frances A. Mosher

Pianist, Christ Congregation
Dallas, Texas

VI. Doctrinal Considerations

The doctrines and theological concepts expressed in hymns should be of concern to those desirous of maintaining a high standard of scriptural soundness in public worship.

The basic beliefs of most Christians have been formulated more by the hymns they sing than by the preaching they hear… Certainly one’s disposition toward, or away from, right belief is subtly but indelibly influenced by the hymns one repeatedly sings. And when talking about faith, average churchgoers can quote more stanzas of hymns than they can verses of Scripture. This fact, far from lessening the importance of preaching and Bible teaching, is simply a testimony to the importance of the hymnal as a practical textbook in doctrine. Moreover, it focuses attention on the critical requirement that the content of the hymns taught to young and old… accurately reflect theological and biblical truth.1

In an interview conducted in the spring of 1979, the late Dr. Richard Seume, at that time the Chaplain of Dallas Theological Seminary, stated, “Music is important, not incidental. It is no exaggeration to say that songs have taught more theology to new converts than textbooks.”2

A thorough discussion of theological concepts as presented in gospel hymns could provide material for a complete article in itself, or even a

book! The discussion here will be limited to a brief consideration of two issues: (1) Is the subjectivity which we have noted in the gospel hymn a scripturally acceptable approach to songs for public worship? and (2) What strengths and weaknesses exist in specific gospel hymns regarding the plan of salvation and the doctrine of grace?

It is currently fashionable in some Christian circles to be critical of a subjective point of view in sacred song. The idea is that such a viewpoint promotes self-centeredness rather than God-centeredness. Such criticism may be a reaction to some of the extremely subjective, self-centered, and theologically empty religious songs which have become quite popular in the last several decades. (Many of these songs are chiefly the domain of those who perform religious music before audiences. Few such songs, with the exception of a few choruses, seem to have found a place in standard hymnals and song books for congregational singing.) It is an unfortunate likelihood ...

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