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Hi, everyone! Just wanted to tell you the new fun thing I am doing: leading an adult study of the hymns (and psalms and spiritual songs!) called "Sing Praise to God." I am writing it as I give it, and envision having 9 sessions in total.

Does anyone have any ideas or questions that you would like to have answered or discussed if you were in a study like this? Suggestions?

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History of the hymns is very interest ... to me anyway ... I going through the books, "Then Sings My Soul" Book 1 and Book 2 ... 300 hymns are reviewed with a hymn and it's history on facing pages. One interesting thing that was revealed is that much like the shift to Contemporary Christian Music has cause great unrest for many local bodies today, almost 300 years ago the shift from the strict singing of psalms to hymns caused similar unrest to the point of church splits. Can we see the beauty in vocal worship for each generation without criticizing what has gone before us.
Greg, I agree. I am one of those "the more the merrier" kind of people: I like hymns, psalms and spiritual songs of ALL kinds. One of the questions for the group was, "What is the right way to sing in church?" One member said, "With a joyful heart--no matter what it is." That seems right to me.
I've been wanting to develop this as well. Our equipping classes are 6 weeks in duration. I want to incorporate the concept of practicing the presence of God along with singing. Knowing the history of hymns can definitely make the singing experience so much richer. I'll probably end up weeping in class (must cover the hymn: It is well with my soul). I haven't developed the class yet to have come up with a division but I'm thinking of historical use, hymns (personal testimony songs), psalms, spiritual songs (other scripture especially some of the more modern songs), favorites (polled in first session), and lastly practicing God's presence through singing. I'd love to see what you come up with for your materials. I also recommend The NIV Worship Bible especially for the spiritual song component.
Dorothy, thanks for the reference suggestion! It is interesting how we choose to interpret the scripture advising us to "sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs." Psalms seems like a pretty straight-forward category, but what is the difference between hymns and spiritual songs? And what was the difference at the time those words were written? What was a 1st century hymn? Are those the ones in places like Philippians and Revelation? Then what are spiritual songs?

Your definition is interesting. Coming from a mainline denomination, I interpreted hymns as those that are in the hymn books, while the contemporary praise songs could be the spiritual songs. However, at one point, all the "classic" hymns were once contemporary praise songs! So the development of a hymnal and hymn collection over time is very interesting to me (and one of my session focuses).
Hello Pr. Jennison,

Although this isn't a hymn, the process could be applied:
Back in the 80's, I attended an adult ed class on Handel's Messiah during Lent. The pastor had us review all the Bible verses used in the separate "hymns," then reviewed the historical settings, talked about Handel and God's power to use an avowed agnostic to His glory.

There are so many hymns that have fabulous stories about the writers and their faith. The same concept would apply: the biblical references, the historical situation in the Bible around those verses, the history of the writers and their inspiration.

Hope this helps.
Jackie Anderson
Thanks, Jackie! I actually thought about using Handel's Messiah as one of the sessions--and may still do it, if it drags out to Lent! ;-) I did one session on "Scripture in the Hymns." I also did one on the Psalms, but now I'm thinking more broadly of one on "Hymns in the Scriptures." Thanks for your ideas!
Here's something that has really expanded my praise to God: Finding out (and watching for daily examples of) that there are at least 7 different meanings for the word"praise". 1 (yaddah) a reaching out for God (Ex: "I Need Thee Every Hour") 2. (towdah) giving thanks to God (Ex: "Give Thanks") 3. (halal) boasting about God's attributes and acts (Ex: "How Great Thou Art" or "This is my story... my song, praising my Savior all the day long") 4. (shabach) to shout with a loud voice (Ex: "I sing the Mighty Power of God", with shouts/cheers at the end of each line) 5. (barak) a deeply-moving holy moment, in awe (Ex: "In Moments Like These") 6. (zamar) to touch the strings, with heart (Ex: "Hear these Praises from a Grateful Heart") 7. (tahilla) to sing hymns of praise (Ex: "Praise Ye the Lord, the Almighty") Also for each praise word I have a inspiring real-life story/example to tell -- or invite others to share their praise stories too! What an evening of praise!!!
Thank you, Linda! Yesterday, we had a morning of sharing where I read scriptures of thanksgiving showing God's care in different areas, and then invited people to share a testimony about how they experienced God's care in that area. It was amazing what folks shared! I like the idea of doing something like this with the hymns, too. Maybe we'll do that this spring!
Regarding the difference in meaning between Psalms, Hymns, and Spiritual Songs, the Bible Knowledge Commentary has this to say: "Paul then gave four results of being filled with the Spirit. First is communication with one another with psalms (psalmois, OT psalms sung with stringed instruments such as harps), hymns (hymnois, praises composed by Christians), and spiritual songs (a general term).

Walvoord, J. F., Zuck, R. B., & Dallas Theological Seminary. (1983-). The Bible knowledge commentary : An exposition of the scriptures (Eph 5:19–21). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
Rev Cynthia

Praise the Lord. Singing the Scriptures back to God is an awesome way to worship our Savior also. It brings a closer walk and relationship with Jesus our Savior. We walk here on earth in the presence of the Lord everyday. It's a 7 day a week, 365 days a year, journey with Jesus, through prayer, worship and meditating in God's Word.
One of my favorite hymns is Wonderful Grace of Jesus - I love the images of how amazing grace is. I have never done any research on how this hymn came into existence-There are so many songs about God's grace and yet so many still don't fully comprehend how God's grace is for them not just other people.
http://www.ccel.org has a lot of info and midi files.

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