Hymns are Dominantly God-Centered. Most hymns that have lasted the test of time are God-centered hymns. Even songs about personal sanctification often have the intention to draw your eyes to Christ in the midst of your trials. This is the ultimate point isn’t it? A life experiencing hardship tests the saint’s commitment to resolutely keep God at the center, if it be to our personal pain or sorrow. Hymns wonderfully point me back to Christ.
There is nothing like a great summer BBQ with your friends and family. The laughter, the sun, the conversation, and, of course, the food. Many like me tend to gravitate around the grill in anticipation for the coals to turn white hot in order to perfectly cook their patties, hotdogs, and my personal favorite: a ribeye steak. But it’s not just any ribeye steak, it has to be perfectly seasoned. Whether it’s a store bought seasoning or homemade blend, every steak needs a good seasoning.
Seasoning brings out flavor, it should enhance the experience. Not enough robs you of enjoying the full potential of your steak. Too much seasoning, it detracts and whets the appetite for water and the imbalance of flavor ruins the experience.
In the same way seasoning impacts steak so too does music impact theology. I love it when theology is rich, deep, thorough—meaty. Still, there are temptations in doctrinally rich circles to dwindle down into cold orthodoxy, blandness. That’s why I believe music plays an important role in keeping theology palatable for the saint.
To be clear, music doesn’t change the theology in the same way seasoning doesn’t change the makeup of a steak. It will or can enhance it and draw out its beauty, but it doesn’t change it. Steak is steak with or without seasoning. Similarly, theology is theology with or without music. My point is that there’s a reason why Christians are commanded to sing (Eph 5:18). There’s a reason why God gave a hymnbook in His Word (the Psalms). It’s because music does something.
Personally, I’ve had some dark days in my recent history; not because of the pandemic or political/social unrest, but due to God’s sanctifying hand in bringing me through trials. In the past year or so, I’ve felt a wide range of emotions including doubt, fear, grief, sadness, hopeless, and anxiety. In all of this, I strongly believed in the rich doctrine of the preservation of the saint. I knew that God could not let me, would not let me go, and would lead me through the valley—and He has so far and I anticipate He will till the end. He has taught me a lot during this season.
One of the important things He has taught me is how He preserves His saints. I believe one of those ways has been through the rich seasoning of Christian lyrics and music that draw us back to Him and His word.