Posted by: rcottrill | February 27, 2011

Why We Love Hymns

The God who invented music, and who Himself sings (Zeph. 3:17), has given us gifted hymn writers who’ve produced a rich treasury of hymns for the church. The following points are adapted and expanded from several blogs in which individuals wrote about why they love these songs.

1) Their Doctrinal Depth. In general (and yes, it is a generalization) our hymns with their multiple stanzas have more precise (and broader) doctrinal teaching in them than the choruses and contemporary songs some have come to use almost exclusively. Our hymns are therefore better suited to teach and edify–which our sacred music is to do (Col. 3:16).

2) Their Power to Witness. When we sing the fine hymns and gospel songs in our hymn books, it is a way of testifying to what we believe, and what we hold to be important. It may well have been the hymn singing of Paul and Silas that prepared the heart of the Philippian jailor to receive Christ as Saviour (Acts 16:20-34).

3) Their Rich Poetry. Again, there are exceptions with both types of church music, traditional and contemporary. But it remains true that our hymns more often contain sublime and soul-refreshing poetry. Even reading them, rather than singing them, gives us an enriching experience.

4) Their History. We don’t always know about the writers of our hymns, or how particular songs came to be written, but often we do. And the stories can be inspiring. They remind us that these gifted individuals were real people, with real problems. Their songs often grew out of personal experience in their walk with the Lord, giving them the ring of authenticity that strikes a chord in our own hearts.

5) Their Timeless Quality. This association with real life experiences gives our hymns a timeless quality. They can be sung with meaning by succeeding generations because they bring together biblical truth (which is unchanging) and basic human experience, which remains the same in any age.

6) Their Ability to Unite. Because our hymns have a timeless quality, and succeeding generations can identify with the truths they proclaim, they are able to draw the assembly of God’s people together. With a bit of explanation, children, and young people, as well as adults, can be blessed by uniting in singing them.

7) Their Power to Touch the Heart. The great hymns of the faith can minister to us in joy or in sorrow, in times of triumph and blessing, and in times when we struggle with burdens and loss. They can mediate the wisdom of the Word, and be an instrument of the strengthening ministry of the Holy Spirit to our souls. And hymns sung as we go about daily tasks can lift our focus to the Lord and spiritual things.

8. Their Anticipation of Heaven. Not only are there songs about the Lord’s return, and about heaven. Often the concluding stanza(s) of many others point us to eternity, and to the gathering of the saints around the throne of God. (Examples are many: Ivory Palaces; All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name; Rejoice, the Lord Is King; Still, Still with Thee; My Saviour’s Love, etc.) Singing these songs helps us to maintain us an eternal perspective on life.


  1. Robert, as I have grown in the Lord, I have grown in my appreciation to the solid doctrine the hymns so often display. It is a source of great pleasure and blessing to me.

    • Thanks for adding to the discussion. Yes, hymns can be a great teaching tool–something they are supposed to be, according to Colossians 3:16. That is not to say that all hymns are without any doctrinal missteps. We have to be careful to get our theology from the Bible, not from our hymns. But they can support the truths of Scripture, and make it memorable, when they hit the target. God bless.


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