Friday, October 12, 2007

Why Hymns Do More Good Than Sermons

Four short reasons why I think that on the average Sunday the hymns do more good than the sermon.

  • Even the most attentive church-goers won't remember much of a sermon, but they will memorize a good hymn.
  • A person has to go out of their way to hear a sermon, but hymns stay in our minds and go with us into the world.
  • In sermons, the pastor lifts up the name of God in church. In hymns, the believer lifts up the name of God wherever he goes.
  • The shelf life of a good sermons is fairly short. Some of the best hymns have been around for centuries.
Of course that only applies to the good hymns, not the ones C.S. Lewis calls "fourth rate sermons set to fifth rate tunes."

1 comment:

P.S. an after-thought said...

Regarding remembering sermons: I personally do better if the sermon contains a (description of a) visual metaphor because then I can remember the picture which then helps me remember the concept. There are a few sermons I've remembered for years because of this practice. Many times I think a sermon is good, but if I don't have a picture in my mind, I can't remember the concepts.

I agree about the hymns, but it usually takes many repetitions to get them to stick for me. But then, I can remember many of the words for years.

There are a number of hymns and songs that are about what God has done and continues to do, so they are vehicles to teach us and we use these words as a means of praising God for what he has done.

There are some songs that are about certain Bible references that are obscure if you don't know the reference because the meaning isn't really explained in the song. Many people don't know Bible stories, so I'd think that the meanings go right past them. I'm thinking here of a couple of traditional songs such as "We shall gather at the River" and "There is a balm in Gilead."

There are other songs, however, which are more about "ME." These seem to be more common in some traditions. For me, they are not "teaching moments." I'm thinking here of such songs as repetitions of "I will praise Him, I will praise him," for example. The subject of the sentence is "I" and there is no reason given for the praise.

While I'm at it, I have one other thought to express. I've always felt that if a song is singable and has good theology, but it is a "children's song" it shouldn't be segregated to Sunday School, but sung in church as well, both for the sake of familiarity for the children, but also because is the type of "sermon" that you mention.