Then Sings My Soul

How the Church Destroys Its Music Ministry

By Dr. Ken Matto


Psalm 98:1 (KJV)   A Psalm. O sing unto the LORD a new song; for he hath done marvellous things: his right hand, and his holy arm, hath gotten him the victory.


The second fatal mistake the modern church has made was to remove the hymn books from the pews and replace them with the overhead projector and a bunch of songs, some of which make no sense.  For example, there is a song called “Lift Jesus Higher” and here are the lyrics.


Lift Jesus Higher

Lift Jesus Higher

Lift Jesus Higher

Lift Him up for the world to see

He said if I be lifted up from the earth

I will draw all men unto me


The lyrics are probably based on the following verses found in John.  John 12:32-33 (KJV)   And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.  {33} This he said, signifying what death he should die.  Jesus spoke about the manner of death He was going to face which was the cross.  He was lifted up when He was placed on the cross.  This song I mentioned makes no sense because it speaks about “lifting Jesus higher.”  How do you lift Him higher than the cross?  Or how do you lift Him higher than Heaven? 


If you noticed, I said the removal of the Hymnal was the second fatal mistake the church made.  Let me tell you the first.  It was the removal of the King James Bible which is replaced with modern versions which are Roman Catholic in origin.  Here is just one example found in 1 John 4:3:


ESV - and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you heard was coming and now is in the world already.


KJV - And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world.


Do you see what is missing out of the beloved ESV which so many Christians cherish?  It is the part of the verse which speaks about Christ coming in the flesh.  It is nothing more than an attack on the incarnation of Christ.  There is manuscript evidence for that portion of Scripture.  So you see the church has been making great strides in disobedience which has resulted in a weak and neutered church.  In this article whenever I reference the Scriptures or the Bible, I am speaking only of the King James Bible.  The focus of this article is going to be on reasons why the removal of the hymnal from the church is an evil idea which is based on the belief that the hymns do not reach the youth and should be discontinued.  Since when should a bunch of teenagers rule a church?  The other reason is that praise songs rejuvenate the congregation.  Do not the benighted leaders of the church realize the hymns ARE praise songs?  From the 1913 Webster Dictionary on the meaning of Praise:


“To extol in words or song; to magnify; to glorify on account of perfections or excellent works; to do honor to; to display the excellence of;— applied especially to the Divine Being.”


How Great Thou Art does not extol or magnify God because of His wondrous works on this earth?  It is based on Psalm 92:5.  Psalm 92:5 (KJV)   O LORD, how great are thy works! and thy thoughts are very deep.


Now I would like to proceed to my reasons for keeping the hymnals right where they are, in the pews and the hymns in the hearts of the people.


Hymns Impart Biblical Truth

If there is one overriding characteristic of the traditional hymns, it is the fact they impart Biblical Truth.  They are basically the Bible’s truth set to music.  For example:


“Immortal, invisible, God only wise,” written by Walter C. Smith.  Corresponding Scripture would be:  1 Timothy 1:17 (KJV)   Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honour and glory for ever and ever. Amen.


“Great is They Faithfulness” written by Thomas Chisholm.  Corresponding Scripture would be Lamentations 3:23 (KJV)   They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness.


“Christ the Lord is Risen Today” written by Charles Wesley.  Corresponding Scripture would be: Matthew 28:6 (KJV)   He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay.


I have given only three examples of how intimately the traditional hymns of the Christian faith are tied to the Scriptures.  When we sing these, even in our car, or on the job, we are, in essence, permeating our mind with Biblical Truth.  One can look at any of the traditional hymns and trace them back to Scripture.  When we sing the old hymns, we are keeping our mind stayed upon the truth of Scripture which causes us to grow stronger in the faith.  The Biblical admonition for the Christian is to keep our minds focused on the Lord.  Colossians 3:2 (KJV)   Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. 


Hymns Feed the Soul

Romans 7:18 (KJV)   For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not.  The Bible teaches us that in our flesh dwells no good thing and that is because when we were saved, our souls were saved but not our flesh because the flesh is corrupt and headed for corruption in the grave lest the Lord return first.  So the true hymns feed the regenerated soul.  The regenerated soul versus the dying flesh is the source of the believer’s war with sin.  When you sing a hymn like How Great Thou Art, you feel a special spiritual feeling come over you because it is a song of praise to God and when we couple that hymn with the great creation God gave us, it also takes on a special meaning.  How many can look at the stars at night or the Grand Canyon and not claim How Great Thou Art?  Since the old hymns are based on Scripture, those hymns make an instant connection with your regenerated soul.  Feeding the soul strengthens the believer’s testimony because they are in line and not contrary to Scripture.


Hymns Do Not Minister To The Flesh

In most compromised churches you will hear music that is loud and has the beat of a rock and roll song.  When you hear that tempo, what is one of the first things you find yourself doing?  It is tapping your feet because that is a natural response to the beat.  When your body is jiggling and gyrating to the music, your soul is not being fed, simply for 2 reasons: 1) The loud instruments and the beat is ministering to your flesh which is what is causing you to jump around.  2)  The second reason is that most who partake of services like that try to outdo the one next to them to prove they are more spiritual.  Got news for you, spirituality is absent when your body is in motion because your body is responding to the loud music.  When you sing a hymn like “Amazing Grace” or “There’s Room at the Cross For You,” your body is quiet and your soul is absorbing the biblical truth which feeds your soul because it bypasses your flesh.  The modern music stops at the flesh and bypasses the soul.


Hymns Minister To Deep Personal Needs

Right before the Lord Jesus Christ was to proceed to the Mount of Olives where He would be arrested and then later crucified, He and the disciples had sung a hymn.  Matthew 26:30 (KJV) And when they had sung an hymn, they went out into the mount of Olives.  Jesus was also getting ready to pray to His Father and He was under so much pressure that His sweat was as great drops of blood.  Luke 22:44 (KJV)   And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground.  On July 6, 1415, when John Huss was being martyred by means of burning at the stake, as soon as the fagots were lit, he sung a hymn and with a cheerful voice  and even louder than when the fire was burning.  Here we have two examples of hymns being sung at the times of the death of Jesus and John Huss of Prague.  John Huss was so strong in his Christian walk that he sung the hymns louder than the fire.  We should use the principle taught here that our situations are never stronger than our Christian life and we can minister to ourselves and to others with the traditional hymns which normally leave an indelible mark on those who witness it.  Whatever we are going through, we can normally find a hymn which meets us right where we are. 


Hymns Convey The Glory of God

Our Christian walk is always to the glory of God since it is He who has orchestrated the plan of salvation by which the true Christian is saved eternally.  When we look at the modern songs with many of the bands looking like a bunch of tattooed circus freaks, all glory goes to them.  It is their band, their music, their beat, their praise, etc.  Modern Christian songs are written to the glory of the writer and the performer.  Their songs may mention God or mention Jesus, but there is no direct mention of who gets the glory.  Fanny Crosby wrote a great hymn which directly teaches us that God gets the Glory.  “To God Be The Glory, Great Things He Has Done” is a very popular but very biblical song which talks about the second coming of Christ, we are redeemed though the blood of Christ, no one is beyond the grace of God, that is, no one’s sin is that bad where God cannot pardon it through the Lord Jesus Christ.  Since we cannot save ourselves and it is all of free redeeming grace, God definitely gets the glory for saving those He has committed to save, regardless of their sin.


Hymns Have Stood The Test Of Time

Just like the modern counterfeit versions of the Bible which come and go in a flash, the modern songs appear in a chorus book and then disappear.  Many of the hymns we sung have stood the test of time because they contain biblical truth which also stands the test of time and does not fade away.  Some examples are:


“Oh Sacred Head Now Wounded” written by Bernard of Clairvaux who lived from 1091-1153 AD.  This hymn is a minimum of 863 years old.  True, he was a Roman Catholic monk but even a broken clock is right twice a day.  It is written about the suffering and crucifixion of Christ.  Mark 15:17 (KJV) And they clothed him with purple, and platted a crown of thorns, and put it about his head, 


“A Mighty Fortress Is Our God” written by Martin Luther who lived from 1483-1546.  This hymn is a minimum of 470 years old.  It is written about spiritual warfare in the light of the Roman Catholic persecution of the true believers.  Psalm 31:3 (KJV) For thou art my rock and my fortress; therefore for thy name's sake lead me, and guide me. 


“Be Thou My Vision” was an Eighth century Irish Poem but was versified in 1905 by Eleanor Hull.   This is probably the oldest hymn we sing making it about 1300 years old.  It speaks of the Lord being our vision, wisdom, and our battle shield.


Vision - Matthew 17:8 (KJV) And when they had lifted up their eyes, they saw no man, save Jesus only.


Wisdom - James 1:5 (KJV) If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.


Battle Shield - Genesis 15:1 (KJV) After these things the word of the LORD came unto Abram in a vision, saying, Fear not, Abram: I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward.


There are many of the hymns we sing written in the 17th to the 19th century by such men as Charles Wesley, John Newton, and Robert Robinson (Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing) and we definitely cannot leave out Fanny Crosby who penned over 8,000 hymns.  Each of these hymns are sourced in the Scriptures which will never go out of date because man’s need today is the same as those of yesteryear.


Many Hymns Are Born Out Of Tragedy

Probably two of the most sincere and reflective Christians who penned hymns based upon their personal situations was Annie Johnson Flint and Horatio Spafford.  Annie Flint Johnson wrote the hymn “He Giveth More Grace.”  Annie was afflicted by so many diseases and physical challenges yet through it all, she penned the fact that during those times, God gives more grace to see the Christian through.  She started showing signs of Rheumatoid Arthritis in her second year of teaching, she lost her mother at 3 years old and her father shortly after that.  Then Annie and her sister was adopted and soon their adoptive parents died, so Annie and her sister were on their own with very little money.  She was an invalid, blind and constantly suffering pain.  She received the Lord at 8 years old and through all the hardships that she endured, she gave God the glory and penned that beautiful hymn.


The next Christian who went through a hard trial was Horatio Spafford who lost all four of his daughters at sea, yet he penned the hymn “It Is Well With My Soul” which speaks about our assurance and joy of salvation.


Most of the modern church songs are penned for the purpose of making money by the author.  I remember churches getting sued for singing these songs because the author did not get paid for the usage of their 7/11 song.  (7 words sung 11 times, like a Hindu mantra)  That is the difference between the modern mindset which make money on songs and those who wrote hymns out of despair and dependence upon God in dire circumstances.  Think I am kidding about the lawsuits?


Hymns are Timeless – Their Message is Always Up To Date

Ephesians 1:7 (KJV)   In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace;  When we sing hymns like “Amazing Grace” we are singing the truth of Scripture which teaches us how every person throughout history has been saved.  No one can ever be saved apart from the grace of God and the amazing part is that God takes a sinner right from the place where they are at, applies grace to them, and saves them.  When we sing “How Firm a Foundation” we are singing the great biblical truth that the Lord Jesus Christ is the foundation upon which the believer stands.  1 Corinthians 3:11 (KJV)   For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.  The same foundation that believers stood on a thousand years ago is the same foundation we stand on today, never going out of date.  When we sing “Hallelujah, We Shall Rise” we are singing about the great day when all the believers will be raised from the dead and those who are alive will be taken to live with the Lord forever.  1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 (KJV)   For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:  {17} Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.  The same needs that people had 1500 years ago are the same needs they have today.  Man is spiritually dead and needs to be regenerated and that is why the hymns are always applicable to each generation because many of them speak about becoming alive in Christ such as “Living for Jesus” which teaches us that we live because we are regenerated by Him and in Him.  Since the Bible is always up to date, those old hymns which are based on Scripture will also never go out of date.


Hymns Create A Reverential Attitude

Leviticus 19:30 (KJV)   Ye shall keep my sabbaths, and reverence my sanctuary: I am the LORD.  Here God commands Israel to reverence His sanctuary simply because that is the place where God met His people.  When we enter a church which has a “praise team” and a full band with drums and electric guitars, we will sometimes wonder if we are not at a sporting event.  The music is played so loud that it actually destroys any spirituality left in the church sanctuary.  Most of the contemporary services are played at such a high decibel level, it can really affect the hearing of people.  Contrary to the modern music when we sing the old hymns, it produces a calming effect and a spiritual atmosphere.  Singing a hymn like “Softly and Tenderly Jesus is Calling” will bring our minds and spirits back into line with the biblical teachings about our Lord.  The Lord spoke to Elijah in a still small voice not in a roar.  1 Kings 19:12 (KJV)   And after the earthquake a fire; but the LORD was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice.  When we enter a bible believing church, our attitudes are to be turned from the loudness of the world to a reverential attitude which feeds our soul bringing us out of the world to meet with the Lord Jesus.


Hymns Cause Us Deeper Contemplation

Philippians 4:8 (KJV)   Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.  The old hymns, because of their connection to Scripture, allows us to maintain a deeper understanding of Scripture.  Since the hymns bring a more spiritual mindset, we are able to understand biblical truth much better.  When we sing Elisha Hoffman’s hymn “What a Wonderful Savior” we sing in the first stanza “We are redeemed! The price is paid!”  Just these few words describes faithfully what the believer has received.  Christ redeemed us: Revelation 5:9 (KJV)   And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; and the price of our salvation has been paid:  1 Corinthians 7:23 (KJV)   Ye are bought with a price; be not ye the servants of men.  In just one line of this hymn, we are told that we are redeemed and the price for our salvation has been fully paid.  It is hymns like this which gets our spiritual minds to think on things of the Lord and off the things of the world.


Hymns Elicit Joy And Not Spikes Of Happiness

1 Thessalonians 2:19 (KJV)   For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Are not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at his coming?  If there is one thing that baffles the world it is the fact that a believer can go through some very tough times and maintain an attitude of Joy.  In fact the world misinterprets it as the believer not caring or taking seriously their situation.  Nehemiah 8:10 (KJV)   Then he said unto them, Go your way, eat the fat, and drink the sweet, and send portions unto them for whom nothing is prepared: for this day is holy unto our Lord: neither be ye sorry; for the joy of the LORD is your strength.  The reason is that the world does not understand that the Joy of the Lord is our strength.  It causes us to face any and all circumstances.  The martyrs of old sang hymns while they were being burned to death.  Why?  Because the joy of the Lord caused them to rejoice in any circumstance and that joy of the Lord is coupled with the knowledge that the only suffering the believer will face is on this earth and once they are promoted from this earth, pain and suffering will be no more for eternity.


When we sing hymns like B.E. Warren’s “Joy Unspeakable” we will sing the second stanza which starts off like this: “I have found the pleasure I once craved, it is joy and peace within me.”  People spend billions of dollars trying to find that inner peace or to find happiness and all trails lead to failure.  I know because I was once like the rest of the world seeking pleasure and peace but never finding it.  Why couldn’t I find it?  Because I was trying to find pleasure and peace for my flesh and the key to both of those is found in salvation in Christ which gives peace and pleasure in the soul.  The peace I craved and the pleasures I craved were only found in salvation.  Psalm 16:11 (KJV) Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.  Them we are guaranteed peace.  Isaiah 26:3 (KJV)   Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.  Both peace and pleasures will never come from a bottle of booze or even a sexual encounter.  True joy is eternal and not a situational event where one day you are happy and the next day you are not.  As I write this, I will be disabled for 13 years.  The truth is I have more joy than some of the Christians I know who have strong bodies and can get around and go anywhere they want at any time.


Hymns Create A Stillness Of The Soul

Psalm 46:10 (KJV)  Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth.  We come to a hymn from Katharina Von Schlegel entitled “Be Still My Soul.”  In the second stanza we sing “Be Still My Soul, thy God doth undertake, to guide the future as He has the past.”  When we sing hymns that teach us that God will guide the future as He has the past, it causes us to let anxiety flee because all Christians can look back in their lives and see many times where the wisdom of God was prevalent guiding our lives and that same guidance will be available for the future until we are called home.  I know many times in my own life, when anxiety seems to build, I pull out the hymn book and start singing the old hymns and I have actually felt anxiety just melt.  The old hymns have a certain power to them because they are connected with the word of God and they treat God with the reverence and worship He deserves.  Try and remove anxiety from yourself by singing one of the modern 7/11 songs and you will find that anxiety will increase.


The Hymn Writers Were Normal People Like You And Me

There is one notion that we must reject and that is, that the hymn writers were super spiritual people.  Nothing could be farther from the truth.  Let us look at just a few, some we already mentioned in this article:


Fanny Crosby was blind

Annie Flint Johnson had many physical problems

Martin Luther was consistently pursued by the Roman Catholics

Horatio Spafford lost 4 daughters at sea

Thomas Chisholm served as a Methodist minister and resigned due to bad health

Philip Bliss died at the age of 38 in a train wreck trying to save his wife

Francis Ridley Havergal died at the age of 42


So you see, the hymn writers were people just like you and me who had the same type of problems which faced all of humanity, whether saved or unsaved.  What set them apart was their devotion to Christ and God used their devotion to pen some of the most beautiful hymns which have stood the test of time.  Two of which we mentioned in this article going back hundreds of years.  When they had faced many problems in their lives, they did not hide in their homes and feel sorry for themselves but used those circumstances to glorify God who brought them through and as a result we sing some of the most biblical and beautiful hymns today.



To those pastors and church leaders who wish to replace the hymnals with the overhead projector and screen should realize what you are removing from the spiritual lives of the people in the congregation!  The old hymns have more potential to reach the youth in your church than you realize.  Whenever biblical truth is proclaimed, it can only change a person and strengthen a believer in their Christian walk.  The old hymns gave us biblical teachings set to music, normally birthed in a time of hardship.  What should be tossed out of the churches are these modern 7/11 charismatic sourced songs which do not engender biblical belief instead makes your church service sound like the crowds at the Olympics.  The old hymns focus our thoughts on Christ and not on who can out dance one another in the pews when the rock and roll starts.  The old hymns give us a spiritual calmness which the modern songs of today cannot.  It is a very serious thing to throw out the truths of Scripture in both the old hymns and the King James Bible.  Those churches who remove these two items will be culpable before God for helping to destroy a person’s spiritual growth in exchange for being a good guy wanting to please all the teenagers.  The pastors and the elders are to lead the congregation, not to follow behind.  Always look at the ripple effect.  What you do today will affect people tomorrow!