For years now Indelible Grace has been at the forefront of the new hymns movement, setting old hymns to new music. Their stated purpose is:
“Our hope is to help the church recover the tradition of putting old hymns to new music for each generation, and to enrich our worship with a huge view of God and His indelible grace.”
Frankly I am not sure what is meant by “tradition”.
They also claim:
“But our true goal is even more ambitious. We want to be a voice calling our generation back to something rich and solid and beyond the fluff and the trendy.”
They go on to say…
“We want to remind God’s people that thinking and worship are not mutually exclusive…”
“We believe worship is formative, and that it does matter what we think.”
No, probably not as long as we feel good right?
“We believe that this theological poetry is supremely suited for expressing the seeming paradoxes of the faith that drive us to worship. Our prayer is that Jesus would be made more beautiful and believable, and we have found few things better suited for this than hymns.”
After listening to a few of the songs below, I did not find myself driven to worship, nor did I think Jesus was made more “beautiful and believable”. Is that the purpose of a hymn – ‘to make Jesus more beautiful and believable”?!
Here is a trailer of the documentary video Roots and Wings: The Story of Indelible Grace and the RUF Hymns:
One definition of a hymn is “…a lyric poem, reverently and devotionally conceived, which is designed to be sung and which expresses the worshipper’s attitude toward God or God’s purposes in human life. It should be simple and metrical in form, genuinely emotional, poetic and literary in style, spiritual in quality, and in its ideas so direct and so immediately apparent as to unify a congregation while singing it”.
“Occasionally, sing a hymn to a different tune than the one employed in the hymn book. (The Metrical Index can help with this. See my article About That “Metrical Index”.) Make sure the tune fits the word emphasis of the metre, and the mood of the words.”
It is not a bad idea if done correctly. Indelible Grace Music claims this was a tradition of the early hymn writers and uses as justification a claim that Wesley’s tune to And Can It Be was originally a bar tune. Mr. Cottrill however, correctly concludes in his article “Barroom Tunes…Again!” this was not common practice, nor was it condoned.
Luther, Wesley and others were greatly concerned that Christians should not be singing the songs of the world. They certainly would not condone using something that would remind people explicitly of immoral conduct or a sinful lifestyle. Down through the centuries, many Christian hymn writers have laboured to keep the church’s music distinct and separate, recognizably different from the secular music of the day.
In the final analysis, we mustn’t use the practice of others as our standard. We cannot say, “Because some hymn writer did this, it is permissible for me to do the same.” The bottom line is that our ultimate standard is Christ (Eph. 4:13), and the principles of God’s Word (cf. Lk. 16:15). When Jesus met with His disciples after His resurrection, Peter, curious about what the future held for John, asked, “Lord, what about this man?” The Lord’s answer affirms a basic principle of personal responsibility: “What is that to you? You follow Me” (Jn. 21:21-22).
If The Holy Spirit inspired the writer, what is the inspiration to change it?
What do you think? Should Hymns be changed?