Tuesday, September 10, 2013



In Northern Ireland recently there has been some high profile media coverage of disagreements in a church which are reported to partly be about musical forms. Whatever the specific issues, there can be little doubt that in some quarters there is a general decline in Bible knowledge and literacy, and I would suggest especially within the younger generation. Songbooks for Sunday school classes of 100 or so years ago (such as this one, edited by Robert Lowry and published in 1881) when looked at today, appear to be far more advanced and demanding than today's equivalents. There does appear to be a 'dumbing down' trend.

Here is a hymn by John Newton, the author of Amazing Grace, from the late 1700s. I suspect thatconceptually, never mind the particular vocabulary in places, it is alien to most today.

I asked the Lord that I might grow
In faith, and love, and every grace;
Might more of His salvation know,
And seek, more earnestly, His face.

’Twas He who taught me thus to pray,
And He, I trust, has answered prayer!
But it has been in such a way,
As almost drove me to despair.

I hoped that in some favoured hour,
At once He’d answer my request;
And by His love’s constraining pow’r,
Subdue my sins, and give me rest.

Instead of this, He made me feel
The hidden evils of my heart;
And let the angry pow’rs of hell
Assault my soul in every part.

Yea more, with His own hand He seemed
Intent to aggravate my woe;
Crossed all the fair designs I schemed,
Blasted my gourds, and laid me low.

Lord, why is this, I trembling cried,
Wilt thou pursue thy worm to death?
“’Tis in this way, the Lord replied,
I answer prayer for grace and faith.

These inward trials I employ,
From self, and pride, to set thee free;
And break thy schemes of earthly joy,
That thou may’st find thy all in Me.”

We live in the age of the txt msg, the 140 character tweet, an age where people increasingly don't read much of anything but rather passively consume video content. I don't have the answer but it is a growing problem.