Mark Noll on hymnody

Mark Noll is as good as they get in church history, and much else--and he is a Wheaton evangelical at Catholic Notre Dame! (Someone ought to report an identity theft. I'm just not sure whose...) More to the point of several recent posts here, he has an essay on hymnody in the latest Books & Culture. I found it typically gold-standard Noll. Here's a taste:

"The new Christian music of Andean, Thai, Tanzanian, or Mongolian congregations can be jarring to most believers from the West, even as Western hymnody can be as alien to those congregations as Western individualism, Western economics, or Western clothing (culture vs. culture). Likewise the contemporary praise of Hillsong can sound like an unintelligible musical tongue to believers whose roots are deep in Charles Wesley or John Newton, and vice versa (subculture vs. subculture). In these and many other occasions of musical disharmony, we see again the countervailing realities that have long marked Christian song: music is an exceedingly powerful medium for securing Christianity in a community; different forms of music are one of the most obvious manifestations keeping worshiping communities apart. Explaining why both realities exist requires attention to several theological truths."

 Reactions & enlightenment welcome.

David Gibson is the director of Fordham’s Center on Religion & Culture.

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