Slideshow image

Question:  How do you pick the hymns that we use each Sunday?


Pastor Bill responds:              

 As you go through the liturgy (i.e. the order of worship) you should always keep in mind that each section and each part of each section (usually divided into “the part from God to the people” and “the part from the people to God)”) has its purpose.  (I usually explain some of that each week).  

Because congregational singing is one of the elements of  “the part from the people to God” it’s especially important that you know the answer to the question asked above. We are to “sing with the mind/understanding (I Cor. 14:15).  Our worship will be more edifying (I Cor. 14:26) if we all know why we’re singing what we’re singing.              

All singing in corporate worship must have three marks:  

  • The songs, above all else, must be scriptural.   If we’re not actually singing Scripture like the Psalms, the hymns should express teachings that are faithful to the Word of God, i.e. sound doctrine.
  • The songs must be singable.  Some very fine hymns can only be sung by people with specialized training - which most congregation members haven’t had.  Hymns for corporate worship must be relatively easy to sing by those present.  In the same way we use Bible versions that most people can understand, we should follow the same principle with the tunes that we use. 
  • The songs must be suitable.  While there is, admittedly, some subjective judgment here, hymns (and their tunes)  to be used in corporate worship must fit that setting. There is a grandeur, a richness, an “awesomeness” in hymns and hymn tunes that are suitable to corporate worship.              

And, I’d add to this, that in my selection of hymns that we use at The Haven, OPC, I try to bring together “things old and things new”, cf. Matt. 13:52.  

We sing the Old Testament Psalms, we sing hymns that have been used (in one form or another) in the Christian church since its early centuries, we use hymns that grew out of the Protestant Reformation and evangelical Christianity, and we use contemporary hymns that have the three marks given above. 

As we sing gathered together in corporate worship we are then reminded by the very songs that we use that we are joined with the saints of all ages in giving praise to God.