New Resource for Hymns: Systematic Hymnology

Do you love hymns as much as we do? Be sure to check out John Gardner’s new blog, Systematic Hymnology! This will be the new home for some of the content that has previously been posted on this blog, with new stories and studies based on the music of the Church added several times a week. Be sure to check back often to see how much we have to learn from our great heritage of hymns! You’ll also find lots of good resources for discovering new artists and songwriters, as well as arrangements that will serve local churches, particularly our own.


John Wesley’s Instructions for Singing

Thanks to the Doxology & Theology Blog for pointing out this list of seven instructions given by John Wesley in the introduction to his Select Hymns, a collection published in 1761:

  1. “Learn these Tunes before you learn any others ….
  2. Sing them exactly as they are printed here without altering or mending them at all …
  3. Sing ALL. See that you join with the congregation as frequently as you can …
  4. Sing lustily and with a good courage. Beware of singing as if you were half dead, or half asleep; but lift up your voice with strength …
  5. Sing modestly. Do not bawl, so as to be heard above or distinct from the rest of the congregation, that you may not destroy the harmony …
  6. Sing in Time. Whatever time is sung, be sure to keep with it. Do not run before nor stay behind it … and take care not to sing too slow…
  7. Above all sing spiritually. Have an eye to God in every word you sing. Aim at pleasing Him more than yourself or any other creature.”

Hymnology: Creation Sings the Father’s Song

Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice,
and let them say among the nations, “The LORD reigns!”
Let the sea roar, and all that fills it;
let the field exult, and everything in it!
Then shall the trees of the forest sing for joy
before the LORD, for he comes to judge the earth.
Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good;
for his steadfast love endures forever!
~ 2 Chronicles 16:31-34

Hymn Story

This hymn is the result of another collaboration between Keith & Kristyn Getty and Stuart Townend, the combination which has produced so many great hymns in the last decade. The most distinctive thing about this particular hymn musically is its meter (time signature). We don’t often sing mixed meter songs corporately, as they can be very difficult to pick up in one hearing. In Creation Sings, however, the mixed meter just “works”. Though the time signature in the verses shifts every measure between 2/4, 3/4, and 4/4 (the choruses stay in 3/4), congregations seem to catch on quickly. This is the mark of an extraordinarily well-written hymn for the church!

 The rest of this entry has been moved to the new Systematic Hymnology blog. Read it here.

Hymnology: Holy, Holy, Holy

“Holy, holy, holy is the LORD God Almighty,
who was and is and is to come!”
~Revelation 4:8

Hymn Story

Reginald Heber was an ardent missionary and hymn-writer during the early 19th century. He wanted to compile a hymnal organized around the church calendar, with hymns assigned to particular services and paired with complementary Scripture readings. He wrote the lyrics to Holy, Holy, Holy for Trinity Sunday, which is the first Sunday after Pentecost; a day devoted to celebrating the Christian doctrine of the trinity. The Church of England’s Book of Common Prayer prescribed the reading of Revelation 4 for this day, which became the basis for Huber’s words.

Unfortunately, at the young age of 43 — just three years after accepting the post of Bishop of Calcutta, India — he died without ever seeing his desired hymnbook come to fruition. After his death, his wife found the lyrics to “Holy, Holy, Holy” scrawled among his papers. She published it a year later, along with 56 other hymn texts.

The rest of this entry has been moved to the new Systematic Hymnology blog. Read it here.

Hymnology: Great Is Thy Faithfulness

“The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.”

~ Lamentations 3:22-23

Hymn Story

So often, when we ask Christians to give their “testimony”, it seems we expect to hear dramatic stories of conversion and miraculous deliverance from tragedy. Sometimes this can make the vast majority of “normal” Christians feel as if our testimonies are too “boring” to share, lacking the excitement of those with a great story to tell. Of course, this isn’t the way it should be. The more we understand about God — about his justice, his love, his mercy, and his faithfulness — the more we will see that every sinner saved by grace is a dramatic story of conversion. When we consider where we would be without Christ’s atoning sacrifice, we see that every Christian has been miraculously delivered from the worst tragedy imaginable! We all have a great story to tell… it’s called the gospel!

The rest of this post has been moved to the new Systematic Hymnology blog. Read it here.

Hymnology: A Mighty Fortress

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in time of trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way.” ~ Psalm 46:1-2

Hymn Story

This hymn is arguably one of the best ever written, and almost certainly the most important… at least as far as Protestants are concerned. When Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the door of the Wittenberg Chapel on October 31, 1517, it set off a chain reaction throughout Germany, followed by Europe and the rest of the world. Christendom divided over Luther’s revolutionary claims that grace was a free gift of God, and that Scripture was the only authority needed for a person to know God and to learn the gospel of salvation. The Roman Catholic church disputed these claims.cause Christ’s eternal kingdom is our inheritance as adopted sons of God!

The rest of this  entry has been moved to the new Systematic Hymnology blog. Read it here.

Hymnology: There Is a Higher Throne

Therefore they are before the throne of God,
and serve him day and night in his temple;
and he who sits on the throne will shelter them with his presence.
They shall hunger no more, neither thirst anymore;
the sun shall not strike them,
nor any scorching heat.
For the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd,
and he will guide them to springs of living water,
and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.

~Revelation 7:15-17

Hymn Story

Keith & Kristyn Getty are contemporary hymn writers from Ireland who now live in Nashville. Their combination of timeless, singable melodies with deep theological truth have produced some very powerful hymns for the Church!

There Is a Higher Throne is actually the first song that this married couple wrote together. Here Kristyn tells a little about its origins, before the Getty’s (along with frequent songwriting partner Stuart Townend) perform a portion of the hymn and teach how it is played:

Here’s a full performance of this hymn:

The rest of this post has been moved to the new Systematic Hymnology blog. Click here to read it.