Can Hymns Be Saved from Extinction?

"The expulsion of hymns from a church can occur either imperceptibly over time or instantaneously, but in many churches they are fading away or already gone. In this context, I propose a way for those who love the hymns of the faith to preserve them. We can save our beloved hymns by reading and pondering them as devotional poems." - Leland Ryken

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Bert Perry's picture

It strikes me from my experience over the past ~40 years in churches that Ryken gives a great pointer as to how to recover a lot of the great literature we've lost.  If we wander through the history of the church, we of course have a body of early church hymns that are almost (?) completely lost as far as I can tell, the chants of the Dark and Middle ages, the early hymnody of the Reformation (and counter-Reformation), the arrival of English hymns as the regulative principle was relaxed, 19th century revival songs, and then the genre of the 20th century.

As a rule, I've found that most churches really have one period of hymnody that they use--modern fundamentalists are, for example, far more likely to use revival songs than 16th Century hymns with the exception of "A Mighty Fortress". 

I especially like the notion of reading hymns as poetry, no matter what the "hymn genre".  Along with the Psalms, Prophets, and other Biblical texts rendered in verse instead of prose, of course.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.