Short Guide No 20: Using Short Songs in Worship

The New Testament encourages believers to sing ‘Psalms, hymns and spiritual songs’, suggesting the Body of Christ needs a range of sung material. As well as hymns, the imaginative use of short songs of various kinds can enrich worship; this paper explores the repertoire of shorter songs and suggests ways of incorporating them into services. Chorus is the name which …

Short Guide No 17: What are the Arguments For and Against Revising Hymn Texts?

‘Nothing changes here’ or ‘All the changing scenes’? Why would we ever ‘revise’ the words of familiar hymns? We do not change a Shakespeare sonnet or a Beatles song; but we do adopt new Bible versions and modify ancient prayers. In which category do our still-beloved hymns belong? Unlike poems, hymns are for singing together by churches which may be …

Short Guide No 16: What are the Relative Benefits of Hymn Books, Service Sheets or Projectors?

Developments in technology have expanded the range of ways in which hymns can be presented during a service. No longer is it automatically assumed that hymn and service books will be handed out at the door. Even where they are, the time will come to replace these books—and then other options can usefully be explored. Among other possibilities, two of …

Short Guide No 14: Building a Hymn Repertoire

Even with a single hymn book, a typical congregation probably has more hymns at their disposal than they can realistically use; add a supplementary book and access to online resources, and the choice rapidly becomes unmanageable. It is, however, possible to tap into these diverse sources and construct a workable repertoire for a congregation’s use. Here are some hints and …

Short Guide No 13: Using Hymns in All-Age Worship

Some services are designated as ‘all-age’. What does this imply? Ideally, all worship should be suitable for everyone in a worshipping community. ‘Our Father’ should mean what it says, without alienating people because of their age or cultural background. So, the term ‘all-age’ usually means a service for both adults and children, with a special emphasis on families. The potential …

Short Guide No 10: What are the Pastoral Considerations when Using Hymns?

The pastoral use of hymns covers both the occasional offices of the church – baptism, weddings and funerals – but also those relating to healing and healing services. It is also necessary to examine the pastoral impact of hymns in ordinary and seasonal acts of worship. Here are some principles which may be applied in various contexts. General pastoral criteria …

Short Guide No 8: How Can We Use the Psalms in Worship?

The Psalter is Scripture’s own hymn book; its contents speak to a vast range of human emotions and experiences. Therefore they should not be ignored. Traditionally the psalms have held an honoured place in Christian worship, but there is no universal agreement within the church as to how best or how often they should be used. Different denominations, different approaches …

Short Guide No 6: What Makes A Good Hymn?

Answering this question inevitably contains a subjective element: a hymn which one person finds comforting can seem mawkish to someone else, while one believer’s treasured old favourite can sound dated to another Christian. Here, as food for thought, are five balances and five contrasts which may help to identify hymns of quality… Five Balances A good hymn balances… Theology and …

Short Guide No 5: How Can We Encourage the Use of Hymns in Worship?

Some ideas to be shared with worship leaders Have a suitable range of hymns available to illustrate the session. A group of well prepared musicians is a great asset! You must involve the audience throughout and be sensitive to people’s interests and concerns. Encourage participation and aim to stimulate discussion which leads to positive outcomes. These notes represent one way …