Hymns are an invaluable source of understanding the Christian faith.
Like the Psalms, they are often grounded in particular human experiences and undergirded by doctrinal commitments, which makes them interesting to reflect about as both theological and sociological documents. They are, in that sense, one type of primary source for understanding church history.
I'm going to start spending some Saturdays reading through bits of the hymnic corpus. My goal isn't to offer definitive analyses, but rather to offer brief reflections and invite the same from you. I am no expert in hymnody, or church history, so I plan on this being a bit of a learning process for me.
Each post will take the same shape to make it easy. I'll introduce the hymn, mention any unique or relevant background info, and then write as much response as I have.
Selections will be taken largely from the hymns I know best to start, simply because they are....the ones I know best. But if you have a request, send me an email, and I'll put it in queue (that's the fancy british word for 'line', and as we're named for two Brits, I defer to their superior diction).
One final note: since I'm introducing this on a Saturday evening, I'll post the first real one tomorrow.
Matthew Lee Anderson is the Founder and Lead Writer of Mere Orthodoxy. He is the author of Earthen Vessels: Why Our Bodies Matter to our Faith and The End of Our Exploring: A Book about Questioning and the Confidence of Faith. Follow him on Twitter or on Facebook.