There is a long-held view that Methodism sings its faith, that the hymns sung Sunday by Sunday help to form what we know and think about God. This can be seen in the debate about hymn books and so forth, and the content. However there are far more hymns than those in a book, and new ones coming out after the book has been published.
However the Untied Methodist Church – in the US – has looked over the top hundred hymns and songs from CCLI and scored them to see how well the conform to Methodist doctrine and practice, the scores can be seen here.
Now as some one who leads worship, I have to say that such guidance is of help. However I do wonder if the tool being developed can also be applied to current, and historic material, and what that would show up. When looking at the criteria being used:
- an understanding of salvation in which ongoing sanctification and making use of the means of grace are seen as crucial
- a practice of corporate worship and discipleship in which sacraments are central
- an attentiveness to doctrinal and biblical accuracy in lyrical form
- the importance of congregational singing, and
- the use of language for God that is expansive, inclusive, non-patriarchal and that consistently respects persons of all cultures, ethnicities, and physical and mental abilities.
So I have to ask how many of our traditional hymns would meet these criteria, or is it only some verses. Hence when looking over time at some hymns we see that some verse are no longer sung.
I have to say that I like that some one is looking over the new material, but do we have to also do likewise with some of the older material?