Sunday, 5 February 2017

Christian Hymns



Christian Hymns, 2004 Evangelical Movement of Wales


I do love hymn books. They are largely extinct in Evangelicalism, having been replaced by overhead projectors. It's sad because it disempowers the congregation. In the days of hymn books, members of the congregation could buy their own copy of the hymn book and thus could become familiar with the hymns for themselves, as well as other hymns not chosen by the minister.

Christian Hymns is the official hymnal of the Evangelical Movement of Wales, a key organisation promoting Calvinist theology in the UK.I first encountered the chunky original edition of Christian Hymns at a Reformed Baptist church, which I attended when I left home to go to college. I much preferred the tradition hymns they sang to the stodgy modern choruses they sang at my parents' charismatic church.

The release of the new edition was not uncontroversial. The Bible League Trust (not be confused with the American Bible League) produced a very hostile review. They objected to the modernization of the language of some of the hymns. I think they had a point there. The changes to the wording of some hymns really jars. I'm also perplexed as to whether the mangling of the wording of Hushed was the Evening Hymn was deliberate or simply a typing error. It does not sound right when you sing it the way it has it in this book, so I lean towards it being a error.

The Bible League were also deeply unhappy with the inclusion of modern choruses in the book and some of the hymns of modern writers such as Graham Kendrick. The problem is that complaint came too late in the day. On the ground, many Calvinistic Evangelical churches were using the sort of modern worship favoured in charismatic evangelical circles. Putting the better choruses and worship songs in a traditional hymnal was a very inspired way of managing and slowing this trend.

Apart from the language changes in a few hymns, I really like this hymn book. It has all my favorite Protestant hymns. I'd certainly recommend buying a copy if you want to familiarize yourself with the best of Evangelical hymnody.

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