The Language of Hymns: Some Contemporary Problems

  • J. R. Watson


Of all the sounds which are associated with churches, liturgies and worship, that of the hymn is probably the most instantly recognisable as religious noise. There is a particular kind of hymn-ness about a hymn, a preference for rhythms and cadences of a certain kind, an absence of surprise, a recognition of familiarities in tune and words: G.K. Chesterton, it is said, wrote ‘O God of earth and altar’ in that particular metre of because he thought that all hymns were written to the tune AURELIA. And clearly there exists a strong sense of what a hymn is in the popular imagination: it is the kind of thing which is sung on the radio and on television, or the well known hymns which are traditionally used at weddings and funerals.


Contemporary Problem Olive Grove Popular Imagination Modern Translation Poetic Vision 
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  1. 1.
    Bernard Manning, The Hymns of Wesley and Watts (London, 1942) pp.33–4.Google Scholar
  2. 12.
    David Jasper, The New Testament and the Literary Imagination (London, 1987) p.4.Google Scholar
  3. 14.
    Brian Wren, Preface to Faith Looking Forward (Carol Stream, USA, 1983) (no page numbers).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© David Jasper and R. C. D. Jasper 1990

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  • J. R. Watson

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