Country, Western & Gospel Music

A History And Encyclopedia Of Composers, Artists & Songs

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be produced. For congregations of average people, readers of popular magazines, newspapers and light fiction, the literary emphasis already needs to be subordinated. In rude, somewhat illiterate communities, rude hymns of little lit­erary value, but with expressions of strong feeling, may be the "best hymns" to be used. That is to say, the "best hymns" are to be selected by laying stress on the effective­ness of the hymn in producing religious emotion and cre­ating a definitely religious attitude in the particular con­gregation or community in which it is to be used. To get the same inspiring and enlivening result in three typical congregations, the dignified "Lead On, O King Eternal," the gospel hymn "Encamped along the hills of light," and the old fashioned spiritual "Palms of Victory" might each be the "best hymn" and each the "worst hymn" among the other types of people.
It is a very common saying in this connection that we must not insult God by bringing him anything but our best. That conceives the Divine Being as a literary connoisseur, or as a musical critic, who applies conventional academic criteria in accepting what his people bring him. What does he care for the tithing of mint and anise in literary quality or musical technique? What he asks are spiritual results in human life and character, and the "best hymn" for him is one that lifts and saves souls.
Again it is insisted that any congregation will respond to the academically best. That is not true! Four-fifths of the congregations in city, village, and rural neighborhoods will not give the desired reaction to such great hymns as "A Mighty Fortress Is Our God," "The Spacious Firmament on High," or "The God of Abraham Praise."
Doggerel Songs and Sermons
It is quite dogmatically asserted that all hymns used in public service must be distinctly worshipful. That takes us back to the Augustinian tradition which has been ignored for four centuries by all but the extremely ritualistic com­munions. "Onward, Christian Soldiers," "Stand Up, Stand Up for Jesus," "O Zion, Haste Thy Mission High Fulfilling," and hundreds of other hortatory, meditative, didactic, homi-