Thursday, March 14, 2013

Quoting Hymns in Sermons

I was at the last day of QTC's preaching week, and sat in on the last session of Mike Raiter's elective on preaching from Hebrews. In one of his sample sermons, it ended with a lengthy quote of four or five verses or so from an old hymn. It got me wondering about the quoting of hymns in sermons. Perhaps more in the past, it was quite a common practice. I remember being in a church where we basically only sang hymns, so you were quite familiar with a lot of hymns. When someone quoted a hymn, often you could think, "Yeah, I know that one". I wonder in the past if preachers quoted hymns because they knew people were familiar with them and sang them, or just because of the powerful choice of words etc in a particular hymn? And what about today? Hymns aren't so common any more. When preachers quote them, do they expect people to be familiar with them? Or do they hope to introduce them to songs they hadn't heard before? Recently I led communion at our church, and I quoted from a modern song, which perhaps our people were not familiar with, but I thought the expressions were quite potent, and captured the sense I wanted to convey. And I liked the song as well (and I suppose it would be nice if the church learned that song some time..!)

I also just looked up an old sermon, which happened to come with my selection of songs for that service. It included a hymn that I liked, but haven't sung for a long time. I share the words here to enjoy them again in this moment :D

Lo! he comes, with clouds descending,
Once for favored sinners slain;
Thousand thousand saints attending
Swell the triumph of his train:
Alleluia! Alleluia!
God appears on earth to reign.
Ev'ry eye shall now behold him,
Robed in dreadful majesty;
Those who set at naught and sold him,
Pierced, and nailed him to the tree,
Deeply wailing, deeply wailing,
Shall the true Messiah see.
Ev'ry island, sea, and mountain,
Heav'n and earth, shall flee away;
All who hate him must, confounded,
Hear the trump proclaim the day;
Come to judgment! Come to judgment!
Come to judgment, come away!
Now Redemption, long expected,
See in solemn pomp appear!
All his saints, by man rejected,
Now shall meet him in the air:
Alleluia! Alleluia!
See the day of God appear!
Yea, Amen! let all adore thee,
High on thine eternal throne;
Saviour, take the pow'r and glory,
Claim the kingdom for thine own:
O come quickly, O come quickly:
Alleluia! come, Lord, come.
(Original Trinity Hymnal, #237)

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