Back to Back Issues Page
Wordwise Insight, Issue #105
May 14, 2013


BIBLE INSIGHTS (and Reader Q & A): Hymn Hypocrisy--are we asking people to lie, when we announce a hymn?

WORDWISE HYMNS: My Blog called Wordwise Hymns for you to check out!

DO YOU HAVE A QUESTION? See below for how to send it to us.


Are you finding Wordwise helpful? And do you have your own website? We would be delighted if you would provide a link on your site to ours. This will enable your friends to find us too! Check the page on the Wordwise website called "Link to Us," and follow the simple instructions. Click on Link to Us.

? ? ?

LIKE TO ASK A QUESTION? On a Bible topic or passage of Scripture? Or one about a hymn or gospel song? Click on Questions from You.


Hymn Hypocrisy

(Do we believe what we sing?t)

This newsletter provides a few thoughts on a subject that likely receives less attention than it ought to. When we announce the singing of hymn in a church service, are we putting pressure on at least some of those present to lie? Is there a kind of forced hypocrisy involved in hymn singing?

It’s a possibility that’s sometimes troubled me, for a couple of reasons.

Singing Hymns for the Wrong Reasons
First, I wonder how many folks sing hymns simply as a matter of form, or because they like the music, without particularly considering the meaning of what they’re singing.

The music of a hymn is intended as a setting for the effective delivery of its message. But does experiencing the music take too prominent a place? And what is the message of the words? Does the hymn express something I truly want to say to God? Or, in the case of a gospel song, is it my sincere witness to others?

Once a month or so, in our services, I try to leave time for some requests. And, if the service is informal enough to do it, one way the service leader can help members of the congregation to zero in on the text in that case is to ask such questions as: Why is this hymn a favourite of yours? What is there about God in this hymn for which we can praise Him? Which is your favourite verse of the hymn? (And why?) Etc.

Singing a Musical Lie
Second, there’s the concern that we’re asking people to sing words they don’t mean. Are we forcing them into a kind of hypocrisy? These would seem to be their choices:

¤ Sing words you don't really mean (formalism) ¤ Pretend to mean the words you sing (hypocrisy) ¤ Simply keep silent (perhaps embarrassing yourself)

Maybe this is so. But I do think it’s helpful to see ...

For the rest of this article, click on Hymn Hypocrisy.


Come and Pay Us a Visit!

I have developed a blog that is called Wordwise Hymns. As the title suggests, it is about hymns, and church music in general.

But as many of you will know, a blog is especially designed to facilitate a conversation on its particular subject. Readers can easily post comments about what they see, and I'm able to reply. I hope you will take part in the discussion!

Through 2010, almanac entries dealt with what happened in hymn history on each day of the year. Beginning in 2011, I hope to analyze hymns from a biblical standpoint, linking to the material that has come before.

My hope is that the blog will add to the value of the website and this newsletter, and promote some profitable exchanges on the subject of sacred music.

What happened on this day in hymnology? To find out, click Wordwise Hymns.

Back to Back Issues Page