Sing Unto the Lord


Indelible Grace
March 4, 2007, 3:21 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

I don’t mean to put up too many posts at once (I won’t be able to keep it up). I found this group a few weeks ago and I thought it would be helpful for others in Australia to know about them. Their name is Indelible Grace and they are a song writing group who spend their time putting old hymns to new music. They often do a great job of it too. I love hearing new tunes to old hymns. Not just because new is better and old sucks, but because this is the way that the hymns were meant to be written.
Believe it or not, Hymns were designed to take Gospel truths and continually contemporize them to the cultural climate of the time. This is why our hymnals have different music composers to lyric composers. People have changed the old tunes to fit a new culture while holding onto the rich lyrical content.
In fact to take it even further, Many hymns were written for the purpose of taking big theological themes and putting them to the words of the poor and the music of the poor (Isaac Watts, John Newton and William Cowper all intentionally wrote hymns for this purpose). This means that the Hymns were not written for an ivory tower audience but for the commoners and those on the streets. As well as this, Hymns were designed to be fluid and ever changing to match the style of the populace at the time.
I believe that in more recent years Hymns have taken on the exact opposite role and have stood as barriers to the unlearned and those who belong to popular culture. At Mens Convention we heard a new tune to the hymn ‘Nothing but the blood of Jesus’. It didn’t grab me straight away but I appreciate the effort being made to contextualise the older tune. I overheard a man in front of me say ‘What was wrong with the old tune. We shouldn’t go changing songs that we have sung for ages.’ I wonder what Robert Lowry (the original author) would have said to him.

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