The Importance of Hymns in the Congregational Church
" Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God."
Colossians 3:16 (NIV)
The Congregational Church is not a new religion in the United States today. This early denomination dates back to the 16th and 17th centuries, a time in which England was involved in a revolt against the Established Church. This congregational way held new principles and views than the beliefs of the English church, many so radical that the followers were called Independents or Separatists. I have been raised in the Congregational Church, and it is truly a wonderful opportunity for me to describe here the practices and beliefs of the place where my faith was nurtured, and also incorporate the significance that hymns have played in my worship experiences.The central understanding in Congregationalism is that each local congregation is self-governing, which necessitates the full autonomy of the local congregation in matters of faith and doctrine as well as in other matters of governance. It acknowledges no authority outside of the local congregation, neither bishop nor presbytery. The Congregational Church is reluctant to give binding authority to creeds, for this is the ground on which they broke free from in early England. Preaching is extremely important, for the Word in Scripture is thought of as the constitutive of the Church. Ministry also derives its authority from the Word, and in my own church is a very vital part of our mission. Baptism and The Lord's Supper are practiced, although there is still an argument present on the baptism of infants. Church meetings, such as my church's Annual Meeting, are key, as all church members have the right and responsibility to participate in decisions. Another significant aspect of the Congregational Church is the singing of hymns in the worship service. Hymns, psalms and spiritual songs all date back to the Bible, and they prove to be a serious part of Congregational worship and reverence of God(Johansson 126). Hymns were sung regularly by God's people for inspiration, guidance, and expressing praise and devotion to God. This premise is confirmed by the more than two hundred references to singing all throughout the Bible, by the Jews, the New Testament Christians and the early church(Ashton 92). In my church we always sing at least two hymns every service, one usually relating to the theme of the sermon. The hymn is concerned first with rational content artistically revealed so that its performance would have an emotional impact based on a concrete objective worth. The hymn's particular balance between reason and emotion makes it unsurpassed as a vehicle for praise, adoration, exhortation, education and narration. Many of us that have been exposed to hymn...