Why Old Hymns Aren't Always the Best Ones

Feb 26, 2024

Have you ever heard anyone lament the absence of the good "old" hymns in churches today?

Or perhaps you've heard so much praise for the good "old-fashioned hymns", it's implied that old is always best or that new hymns are usually bad (or should be mistrusted at first).

While it's true that a good hymn typically does pass the test of time, it's not true that old hymns are always the best hymns. It's also not true that new hymns are usually bad!

Want to know why?

The answer may surprise you for a moment but not for long!

Old hymns aren't always the best hymns and new hymns aren't automatically bad because God is constantly giving His people new hymns.  This means that every old hymn was once a new hymn! It also means that as long as God is in the business of salvation and sanctification, new hymns will arise in the hearts of His people. 

In Psalm 40, David writes, "He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear the Lord and put their trust in Him."

Furthermore, Psalms 96, 98 and 149 all begin with the admonition to sing a new song to the Lord.

So while a truly great hymn has the longevity factor — its truth and appeal to Spirit-led hearts is timeless — factors like sound biblical doctrine, well-written lyrics and a melody that's easy to sing and remember are even better criteria for evaluating the praise we sing to the Lord.

And let's not forget David's reminder in Psalm 40:3. While many, many old hymns are true treasures and undeservedly overlooked today, new hymn can also exalt our God above ourselves and encourage those around us to fear the Lord and trust in Him, too.




Hymns Illustrated Members dive deeper into hymn studies with monthly devotional guides and Bible study resources that can be used in a personal or homeschool setting.



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