This conversation was sparked in a former post by trying to figure out the difference between a hymn and a modern hymn. And I’ve been having this conversation with people around me ever since. What defines a hymn? What is it that makes us use the term hymn for some songs and worship song for others? Instrumentation? Meter or style? Year written? Chord progressions? Melody?
Here is what the dictionary says.
a religious song or poem, typically of praise to God or a god : a Hellenistic hymn to Apollo.
• a formal song sung during Christian worship, typically by the whole congregation.
• a song, text, or other composition praising or celebrating someone or something : a most unusual passage like a hymn to the great outdoors.
With that definition, what’s the difference between a hymn and anything modern worship song we sing? One of the major discussions in a lot of church settings is the use or non-use of hymns in worship? Is there something other than the year a song was written that defines it as a hymn?
What do you think? Is there a difference between hymns and other songs used in worship?