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Monday, October 1, 2018

Inspired by . . . Hymns of Faith: an introduction

“If I had a thousand tongues, I’d praise Christ with them all.” ~Peter Böhler

John Wesley published the first hymnbook in Charleston, South Carolina in 1737. For his efforts, Mr. Wesley was, “arraigned before a grand jury for altering authorized psalms and for introducing unauthorized compositions into church services.”

As with all Divine movements in history, bringing the hymns to the people was met with opposition, controversy, and division.

The word "hymn" comes from the Greek "hymnos," songs sung to the gods and heroes of Greek mythology. Yet, unlike other pagan to Christian adaptations, our hymns of faith did not simply change the small "g" to a large "G". The hymns of the Church find their Divine origins in the Psalms; songs written by King David, and others, songs sung by our Lord, Jesus Christ.

In the 6th century, St Benedict took the Latin texts and fit them to the Greek hymnos structures, creating the plainsong (not to be confused with plainchant) hymns. Ten centuries later, the Reformers, insisting that the hymns should be sung and understood by the people, began to introduce metrical versions of the psalms sparking a controversy in the Anglican church that would last well into the 19th century.

While the psalms remain the foundation, few of us view them from a musical perspective. Fewer still will ever learn to chant or sing them. Yet every Christian knows at least one hymn, even if they are more likely to call it a Christmas carol.

For those who grew up in the church, it is quite possible that the words we sang and the emotions we experienced have remained with us through our entire lives.

Regardless of your background or musical preference, the hymns still have much to teach and to offer us today. More importantly, they remain a "sweet, sweet sound in [His] ear."

Let's revisit them together.


You can find the entire series here.


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