Country, Western & Gospel Music

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letical, and experiential hymns, containing no direct wor­ship, crowd our best hymnals.
Yes, there have been and are some disgustingly poor gos­pel hymns put into cold print. As long as people have aspi­ration without inspiration, and others have deep religious feeling with no native or acquired ability to express it, we shall have shocking specimens of cheap doggerel masquer­ading as gospel hymns. But we have shockingly poor ser­mons in many of our churches, which is worse. They are not always to be heard in the countryside, either, for some of the purposeless and futile sermons the writer ever heard were from preachers in great churches who prided them­selves on the literary essays they read.
One of the crimes of the gospel hymns is that there are so many of them. Yes, we could spare some of them! But the same flood of what we now call standard hymns sub­merged the churches during the eighteenth and early nine­teenth century. Wesley's six thousand five hundred hymns, Watts's over six hundred, Newton's three hundred, Top-lady's four hundred, and so on indefinitely, made as swollen a record as our recent gospel hymns. If there were not so many gospel hymns, we should have missed "I Need Thee Every Hour," "Blessed Assurance," "He Leadeth Me," "Je­sus, Savior, Pilot Me," and scores of others.
But the gospel hymns are by no means all bad. They differ from the standard hymns in rhythm and style, are more varied, more intimate and spontaneous in expressing personal religious experience, and therefore are less ele­vated in verbiage, are more closely associated with practical work of the church. This difference of type is much the same as that between Watts and Wesley; the hymns of the latter were obliged to wait long years before they were admitted to the hymnals of the more formal churches.
Writers Not Illiterates
The writers of our better gospel songs are not illiterates. They are about the same general class of people as those who wrote the hymns from which our standards were slowly winnowed: ministers of the gospel, editors, college presidents, teachers, saintly women, successful church workers. In general, their technique is better than that