The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #93597   Message #1804152
Posted By: Joe Offer
08-Aug-06 - 02:25 AM
Thread Name: What makes a good hymn?
Subject: RE: What makes a good hymn?
I think weelittledrummer is onto something - "it should feel like touching the very substance of God." My wife says she feels the song should feel like it comes from within herself, not so she feels like she's singing somebody else's song.

The doctrinal issue is a sticky one. I refuse to sing a number of hymns for doctrinal reasons - but usually because the song is pushing a doctrinal agenda. In general, I think a good hymn should transcend doctrine and unite people, rather than dividing people into doctrinal cubbyholes. On the other hand, it shouldn't be so devoid of doctrinal content that it says nothing. I'll agree with Slag that the theology should be sound, but perhaps it should not be sectarian.

Leeneia's list says the hymn should be based on scripture. I don't agree with that completely, but I've found that hymns based on scripture are generally more likely to stand the test of time. Scripture-based hymns usually don't get bogged down by excessive sentimentality or by cliches of the era. Still, there are some darn good hymns that aren't based on scripture.

In general, I think a good hymn has a memorable melody and a singable range and meter, and a certain timelessness to the lyrics. I think "How Can I Keep from Singing" and "I'll Fly Away" fit my criteria very well. So does "Where Charity and Love Prevail," which has a more profound message.