NEW TESTAMENT HYMNS
In spite of what our brethren who will only sing the Scottish Metrical Version of Psalms of David say, there is a very good indication in the New Testament that hymns, other than Davidic Psalms, were sung. Many preachers and writers will use hymns to illustrate or emphasis a point, and this has been done throughout the Christian testimony. In fact the following lines from Scripture may be, probably are, samples of, or extracts from, New Testament hymns and chants;-
For other examples of first century poetry, hymns and spiritual songs, which were, most probably, sung congregationally, see, Col.1;15-20, Titus.34-7, and Heb.1;3-4, Other doxologies can be seen in the following;- Rev.1;6-8, 4;11, 5;9-13, 11;15-18, 12;10-12.
It must be born in mind that modern rhythmic and metrical arrangements were unknown in New Testament times therefore the musical arrangements would be quite different to anything used among English speaking Christians. However, believers from the sixteenth to the twentieth century have become enslaved to a poetical arrangement which sometimes distorts the truth contained, or implied, in the hymn in order to fit a rigid modern metrical and rhyming arrangement. There is certainly a case for ‘turning the calendar back’ in order to recover Scriptural truth in our service of song.
So late as the ninth century Walafrid Strabo explains that by hymns he
does not mean only metrical compositions such as those of Hilary, Ambrose,
Prudentius and Bede, but such other acts of praise as is offered in fitting
words and with musical sounds. And Augustine lays down the same rule,
that any composition of a rhythmic character, whether in verse or not,
which is capable of being sung, must be reckoned a hymn.”
Also, there are several other problems among Christian Congregations, which adversely affect collective praise to the Godhead and two of these are very subtle. First, there are those who discard good old hymns, because they are old, for inferior new hymns because they are new. Second, there are those who retain poor old hymns, because they are old, and reject good new hymns, because they are new. Both of these factors should be a concern to all who are concerned for the service of God, and should be addressed in sincere prayer. In the first the great contribution of our Godly forefathers is discarded. In the second instance our forebears, however Godly, are elevated above the present working the Holy Spirit and their poetry is given a status that only belongs to Holy Scripture.