CH3 as a Manual of Devotion

Rev James M Annand

Finds that the book is within the tradition of Calvin, being characterised by dignity and quality. It has been criticised but it is an advantage that it does not go to extremes. That hymns require 'two arts' has its difficulties, and mutual enhancement of word and melody is not always achieved. Hymn book editors can err on the side of the including the best and thus ruling out the unmusical, but a good choirmaster can teach new tunes. The author recalls learning a new hymn at Westminster for a service of the kirking of horses: 'Teach us all to love our horses,/ Keep us from all evil courses, /Help us to do right.' The musical editors have sought too high a standard of excellence; many old tunes should have been left. Changes can disturb and disrupt devotions. The hymns texts are of high standard. While primarily a liturgical book, CH3 may serve as a manual of devotion. (The author understands this role of the book as operating within worship, rather than privately.) He outlines the different ages of hymns, and the many church traditions from which they come. It is important to ally the use of hymns in this way to the lectionary. A hymnary unites people of many persuasions. The hymn book also has an educational function, not least for children, especially given the lack of anything similar to the Shorter Catechism. Hymns allow us to articulate what we would not be able to, left to ourselves. Classic hymns speak to needs that will never change.

Volume 13 Spring 1986, p2
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