Aesthetics and Theology in Congregational Song
A Hymnal Intervenes
This chapter examines the decision-making processes that lead congregations and denominations to choose new hymnals. In the historical longue durée of American religious experience hymnals have undergone continuous change, making it possible for them to reflect changing theological conditions and to absorb the different sounds and aesthetics of song itself. Looking primarily at the United Methodist Hymnal, this chapter compares individual responses to favorite hymns and the new materials and liturgical concepts emerging from denominational decisions. Hymn and hymnal choice, therefore, reflects both top-down and bottom-up aesthetic and theological decisions, thus giving the hymnal the power to mediate and create a religious experience in which differences are accommodated and given voice.
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