Evaluating Missionary Written Hymns for use in 21
Century Asian ChurchesDavid Alexander August 2008
Evaluating Missionary-Written Hymns for use in 21
Century AsianChurches, with Specific Reference to the Taiwan Context
The Uses Of Hymns And Other Liturgical Texts
The people of God sing. Psalms, hymns and spiritual songs comprisesignificant portions of both Hebrew and Christian scriptures and of the lives of God’s people. Music and song are vital in the life of God’s people today. Karl Barth opined
“singing is not an option for the people of God; it is one of the essential ministries of the church.”
Yet when we take the
of singing into mind, these comprise highlycontested areas of concern in churches. Relevance to modern culture is cited byadvocates of more contemporary styles of worship. The danger of culturalaccommodation and its potential to distort the message of the gospel is cited by thosewishing to adhere to “the traditions.”
In the earliest days of Reformed churches music was not thought fit for admissionto the public worship of Almighty God. Ulrich Zwingli, himself a very accomplishedmusician, banned it. This pattern, initiated at Zurich and copied elsewhere, lasted wellinto the 16
century. For these
Christians and their churches it was the
which mattered. Emotion, sentimentality and musical accompaniment were banned to preclude the possibility of the word becoming lost or obscured by artifice.
John Calvin changed the pattern. The church at Geneva in 1536 held to theZwinglian pattern. Calvin soon suggested the restoration of music to the churchservice “so that the coldness of the prayers of the people be removed and so that the
The author holds the MA in Theology degree from New Brunswick Theological Seminary in the USAand the Ed.M. degree from Rutgers University Graduate School of Education and serves asInternational Students’ Advisor at Tainan Theological College and Seminary.
, Vol. IV, part 3, chapter 16, par. 72, #4.
Robert L. Foster , “A plea for new songs: a missional/theological reflection on Psalm 96.”
Currents in Theology and Mission
- August 1, 2006
Howard Hageman, “Can Church Music Be Reformed?”
The Reformed Review
, Dec 1960 Vol 14, No.2. p. 19.1