I am sure that I am not alone when I say that I have wondered about the hypocrisy of those who cry against modern worship songs being light on theology and therefore should be rejected in favor of the oldie-but-goody hymns, when many hymnals contain such choruses as “In the Garden”, “Love Lifted Me” and other sentimental favorites. The problem is not chronology, it’s content.

Thankfully, theologians, pastors and musicians have assembled to create a new Baptist hymnal. Here are the criteria for the 650 songs included in the hymnal:

— Does the hymn speak biblically of God?
— Is it God-honoring?
— Does the hymn present a biblical view of man?
— Does the song help us to cover the depth and breadth of our theology?
— Does the hymn call us to true discipleship, service, repentance, witness, missions and devotion?
— Does the hymn speak biblically of salvation?
— Does it engage the whole person – allowing a person to express his deepest feelings?
— Does the hymn emphasize that Christ is the Christian’s Lord, Master and King? (the idea of total submission)
— Does the hymn present an Americanized/Westernized gospel? (civil religion)
— Is there a balance with corporate and individual response in worship? (immanence and transcendence)
— Does the hymn speak biblically about the church, the body of Christ?

Though I would still love to see a hymnal that includes songs from all cultures, not just the American/Western, I am glad that there seems to be a desire to create a hymnal that is distinctively focused on God and His glorious purpose. May this lead us to greater songwriting in our day, and for greater appreciation of the legacy of songs sung about and for our Lord through the ages.