In Search of a Good Hymn -- By: James Correnti
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In Search of a Good Hymn
Hymns permeate the life of the Christian, and almost all Christians have hymns they consider favorites. But how does a Christian properly discern which hymns are best?
Most Christians agree that the fullest New Testament texts to focus our attention on music are two companion texts found in Ephesians and Colossians.
We’re told in Ephesians 5:19 that the first glorious byproduct of being filled with the Spirit is “speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord.” Even more complete is Colossians 3:16: “Let the Word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God.” While the contexts are general, referring to all of our Christian living, particularly as we come in contact with one another, the texts certainly give us helpful direction for our music as we gather as congregations to worship the Lord.
What I want you to notice most of all is the centrality of God’s Word throughout the Colossians text. While it speaks specifically about psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, it does not begin with music. It begins with the Word.
The opening phrase, “the Word of Christ,” is used only here in the entire New Testament. This speaks about the Word which has a particular reference to Christ, coming from the very hand of Christ (through the inspired apostles). And this Word is to “richly dwell within you”—perhaps best illustrated by analogy to other New Testament images: indwelling sin (Rom. 7:17), indwelling Spirit (Rom. 8:11), and God indwelling His temple, His people (2 Cor. 6:16). This speaks of permanent presence and pervasive influence.
This Word of Christ richly dwelling within us has certain practical outworkings. It says, “with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another.” We show forth wisdom when this Word of God, going beyond mere knowledge, has made such
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an impression upon us that now we are able to put it to skillful use. In what ways would that happen? It says, “with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another.”
With wisdom we may use the Word of Christ to explain, encourage, give special insight to someone, or to correct or confront. Each of these words and phrases has to do with the Word ...
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