Friday, April 1, 2011


"There is no instance of any hymn from the broad scheme of traditional hymnody that came from a "drinking," "tavern," or "barroom" melody.  It just hasn't happened.  Ever." - Jonathan A. Aigner

The fact is that most of the hymns we know today, or that we have record of from earlier times, are paired with melodies of known origin.  Many were either paired with existing melodies out of the ranks of art music and new compositions.  Some were paired with existing hymn tunes, themselves of know origin, of course (for instance, you can sing "Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing" to the tune of "Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus," "Love Divine, All Loved Excelling," "Brethren, We Have Met to Worship" and a bunch of others). 

So is it wrong to use well-known secular (not profane) tunes in worship?  I'm certainly not going to say that.   (And please don't take this as being any sort of indictment of modern music in worship, because we have to hold everything to the same theological standard, whether new or old.)  But I do think it would do us well to be cautious.  Cautious that we're not coming before the throne with anything that can be otherwise identified with something profane or obscene or diametrically opposed to Christ's Kingdom.

Not that drinking is any of those things.  And not that bars are necessarily any of those things.

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