Sing Unto the Lord

Hymnary and Psalter
May 5, 2008, 9:12 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

I collect hymnals.

It’s a funny thing to do. They are always the books in secondhand bookshops that have the most dust on them. They are always the last books to go. I guess people don’t really sing many hymns any more and when they do they usually have their own hymnal already.

Up until recently I had 11 hymnals but on a recent holiday up north I managed to pick up number twelve – ‘Hymnary and Psalter of the church of Scotland (1900)’. It is the jewel in the crown of my collection. It is split in half like a identity kit so you can choose whatever tune to go with whatever psalm. As well as that it has a whole bunch of classic hymns for all occasions in the back.

What I look for in a hymnal is a good index of tune writers and lyric writers, a good index of first lines, scripture references for all hymns + index, a mad introduction or preface.

My new Hymnary and Psalter has all these things.

But the other thing that I am interested in about hymnals is the way that they reflect the theology of the people that sing them. It is important that my new hymnal has none of Charles Wesley’s hymns in it. The Church of Scotland are passionate Calvinists and Wesley was an Arminian (funnily enough Wesley’s hymns have echoes of Calvinism in there. It’s like he couldn’t help writing that God was sovereign over all things in his songs but couldn’t quite grasp it in his everyday theology).

They are however, big on Isaac Watts. Watts was a puritan and a Calvinist. I find that stuff fascinating. You get a period in the middle of last century where all German composers and lyricists disappear out of English Hymnals. I wonder why?

Aside from the dogma and racism that dictated lots of these choices, a hymnal for our forefathers represented your theology and identity. In a Hymnal you can capture where a particular church is up to in their doctrine and how they see it impacting their lives.

Are we like that?

How do the songs we sing represent us as a church? What do we choose to sing lots about and what do we choose to ignore? How would a power point database collector (future equivalent of hymnal collector) of the twenty second century see our churches now. Would they say that we were passionate about General Revelation? We love to see God in creation. Would they say that our churches loved ourselves? Will they say that we continually made bold promises and oaths to God, making vows and commitments in our songs? Or will they say that we were a generation of churches who were passionately, whole-heartedly committed to proclaiming Jesus. Our great Saviour. Our King. I pray that thats what they will see when they look at our church’s power point database. May we never follow after trends and popular songs to the detriment of singing Jesus. Don’t sing Wesley just cos everyone else is (proverbially speaking).


4 Comments so far
Leave a comment

Show us some photos, mate, a la Bible Design & Binding.

Comment by Ben

Yeah. I will. I have put off doing this post cos I wanted to take some sweet ones but then I thought if I don’t post I’ll never do it. I’ll post some pics this week

Comment by danielgodden

that last paragraph is gold.

Comment by Dave Miers

[…] collects hymnals, and he’s just posted some pics, a la J. Mark […]

Pingback by Hymnal Design and Binding? | bathgatesdotnet

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