Country, Western & Gospel Music

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pious in their reserved, individual way, but chiefly inter­ested in the formal side of the church's life. Emotional religion is bad form, is repulsive to them. Revivals of re­ligion are to many of them mere emotional orgies. Hence, they condemn gospel songs expressing joy in Christ and love for him as revivalistic and emotional.
Many who deprecate the use of gospel hymns are ideal­ists who have no clear vision of the primary purpose of the hymn; to aid in the progress of the kingdom of God, in the conversion of sinners, and the edification of saints. To them it is an absolute entity, standing alone. But the hymn is not simply a poem, a piece of literature to be judged as you would any other poetry; it is something to be used to accomplish definite ulterior purposes: it must so vitalize and make actual the message it brings as to create religious feeling in the minds of those who listen or even sing in­differently. This consideration begins in an entirely new set of criteria based on the effects it is to produce in various classes of people. In a hymn to be used in an efficient way these practical criteria have the right of way. The idealis­tic criteria are not set aside of course but they more or less subordinated. From a literary point of view George Her­bert's hymns are very thoughtful, very expressive, very rich in adornment. Yet as singing hymns they are impos­sible. They are like Langley's aeroplane—they do not fly!
Isaac Watts and John Newton and even William Cowper, avoided literary quality rather than sought it, as they feared it would injure the practical value of their hymns. Of course, the deep feeling and the intense conviction of truth they expressed occasionally ignored their practical theories and produced literary masterpieces, as in Watts's "When I survey the wondrous cross," Newton's "How sweet the name of Jesus sounds," and Cowper's "Sometimes a light surprises."
Hymn's Value Depends on Appeal
The value of a hymn for actual use, therefore, depends on its appeal to the people who are to sing and to be in­fluenced by it. For a college church, for congregations of highly educated and cultivated people, the literary appeal may well be emphasized, if a deeply devotional effect is to
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E-Book - An Annotated Compendium of Old Time American Songs by James Alverson III