Why Hymns Matter [Excerpts]
The word "hymn" usually doesn't lead to thoughts of "modern," but modern hymnwriters Keith and Kristyn Getty are trying to change that.
That doesn't mean they want churches to stop singing the old hymns -- just the opposite -- but they do want churches to see that modern songs can have a similar lyrical depth….Christians who have never heard of the Gettys may nevertheless have sung one of their songs, "In Christ Alone," which was co-written by Keith Getty and Stuart Townsend.
[The Gettys were interviewed] November 2:
Q: Why are you so passionate about hymns?
Keith Getty: I think the things we are most passionate about are, first, making sure that congregations are able to sing together and, secondly, making sure that the Word of Christ dwells in us richly. When you look at the New Testament, the radical thing about the church wasn't its performance capabilities, it wasn't buildings, it wasn't even artistry. It was the fact that these people from every background were coming together to sing. In other words, what congregational singing represents is actually what the church represents. The whole concept of congregational worship is to represent the church here on earth as to what it will one day be in heaven. So it is a unifying thing.
The second thing is, when we look at the models of hymns that we have in Scripture, we have all the Old Testament hymns -- mostly hymns of faithfulness like the song of Moses and the song of Aaron, which go on for 30-40 verses. We have the Psalms, which is our Old Testament songbook. And then we have the early hymns of the New Testament, which take us through the central Gospel story in Philippians and Colossians. There is a strong sense of God's faithfulness, but there's just a much greater level of lyrical depth. Songs can be short, they can be long. They can be any structure. That's not the issue. But we do have to write songs of substance, because there is a direct correlation with what we sing as to how we live our lives. In the Song of Moses in Deuteronomy, the people were told they had to learn the song. It was 20-30 verses of what God had done for His people. They were told to learn the song so it would be a witness against them if they ever fell away. That's how important what we sing is to how we live our lives.