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Hymns

Our walk with Jesus should lead us beyond satisfaction with personal peace and on a quest to bring greater peace to others. I was reminded of that truth by two classic country singers – George Jones and Merle Haggard. […] Read More

White-biased imagery is common in our churches, but its inherent racism is much more subtle than the blatant sexist language and patriarchal imagery that is so dominant in our worship services and beyond. […] Read More

“The Star-Spangled Banner” has been sung and played often in the past few days, including at many churches. Another song, often called the “Black National Anthem,” calls us to join hands and work together. […] Read More

I fear that some people see hymns only as nostalgic remnants from the church of yesteryear, that hymns are only useful to pass the time at funerals or revival services. Hymns, however, play more of a role than that, and research suggests that hymns contribute to our theology and vision of the world just as […] Read More

Editor’s note: This article has been revised to remove a statement about William Sloane Coffin being kin to Harry Emerson Fosdick. They were not related.Most ministers I know pray for courage daily. Ministry is a sacrificial act that requires risk, reconciliation and intuition. It is a craft that pastors shape over time, a vocation forged […] Read More

I think we could make a case for regarding the iconic hymn “Amazing Grace” as the Psalm 23 of modern hymnody. Its appeal seems not to be limited to the particular faith tradition of its origin, as it is often played and sung at public events that call for an affirmation of the sacred in […] Read More

Someone recently asked me to give some examples of how I would use hymns as teachable moments in a congregational setting. The question arose in response to previous articles I’ve written noting that hymn singing is problematic in contemporary American church life. For one thing, it has largely dropped away in favor of praise-and-worship choruses, […] Read More

I was raised attending a church that knew nothing of such innovations as extended session and children’s church. If you were a child at the Midway Baptist Church located four miles outside of Barnesville, Ga., on City Pond Road, you were promoted straight from the nursery to the worship service. I learned to count by […] Read More

While attending a breakout session during the Oasis music and worship conference sponsored by the CampbellUniversityDivinitySchool, I learned that my all-time favorite hymn was not originally titled “Amazing Grace.” It was “Faith’s Review and Expectation.” What? The hymn was written by John Newton, a former sea captain, active in the slave trade, who once bargained […] Read More

I am at times afflicted with chronic lyricosis, which is, on the off chance you have not heard of it, a malady characterized by the habitual misunderstanding of song lyrics.   When I was a child, I thought the church song that affirmed “Whosoever surely meaneth me” instead said “Whosoever Shirley meaneth me,” which caused […] Read More