What makes a hymn sacred? Are there some hymns or Christian songs that are not sacred?
The word sacred means, “dedicated or set apart for the service or worship of a deity (God); devoted exclusively to one service or use” (Merriam-Webster’s 11th Collegiate Dictionary).
The last part of that definition is why it is becoming necessary to use the word sacred in describing what are proper hymns: “devoted exclusively to one service or use.” Ephesians 5:19 says, “Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord.” That is the type of music we are told to listen to in private, “Speaking to yourselves…” That is the exact same music that we are to sing or play before other people. Colossians 3:16 says, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.” The phrase, “teaching and admonishing one another…” shows us this is the proper music to sing and play before others.
Whether in private, or in public, you will notice that the music is to be the same, “psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs.” The music being passed off in churches and on Christian radio as hymns or Christian could by no means ever be called sacred. It is the same music to which the world (and now, many Christians) dance. The world parties to that same music. That contemporary or rock beat is not a sound that is dedicated to worshipping God and used solely for that purpose. That sound is as much at home on the dance floor and in the bar (tavern), as it is in worldly (liberal) churches today. So when talking about psalms or spiritual songs today, we would have to use the same word in regard to them: sacred psalms, and sacred spiritual songs. If you are not specific, then you are going to hear some rock psalms, and some rock spiritual songs.
That is why I have gone to using the term sacred hymns, to clearly distinguish between the contemporary sound of this day, and the sound that is dedicated exclusively for the worship of God. Some years ago, we bought a cassette that was labeled as hymns. But when we listened to it, we found it to be contemporary or with the rock beat in it. This whole issue is a matter of honesty, or the lack of it. That cassette was not really hymns, and the seller knew that. Romans 12:17 says, “Provide things honest in the sight of all men.” 2 Corinthians 8:21 says, “Providing for honest things, not only in the sight of the Lord, but also in the sight of men.” Hebrews 3:13 says, “But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.”
Some years ago, I wrote to the President of Grand Rapids Baptist College (in Michigan), and asked why he was allowing Christian Rock music to be played on their radio station. I got a very cold letter back stating that no rock music was ever allowed to be played on their radio station. This was in the early 80’s when most Christian’s were not willing to admit that the beat of the drums and guitars in their music was the same as in rock music (only in the early 80’s, just toned down a little). James 1:22 says, “But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.” Many Christians have deceived themselves into thinking that they are not disobeying God by listening to such music. They have deceived themselves.
It was in the 1980’s when I saw the first Christian singing group advertise in a magazine that they sang Christian Rock. When the first group finally admitted the truth, it was like opening the gate to a herd of stampeding cattle. Then everyone started advertising that way. Proverbs 13:20 says, “He that walketh with wise men shall be wise: but a companion of fools shall be destroyed.”
To stay the criticism that arose over that, those Christian Rock bands started saying that “music is neutral.” They said, “It is the words that are important.” If music is really neutral, and the words are the most important thing, then why do they never sing the sacred hymns? Because they are not being honest again. The words are not the most important thing to them — it is the music — the rock music, that is most important. Rick Warren proved that, recently, when on their churches’ anniversary, he admitted that he had always wanted to sing the rock song, Purple Haze, to his congregation, and he did so. The words to the song talk about what it is like to be high on drugs. The love for the rock beat is the real love involved in this matter, and it always leads back to mama — the vile, immoral, drug addict, rock groups and their songs. Rick Warren proved it, as well as a host of other musicians who were once Christian rockers, and are now singing plain rock & roll or country/western.
During warm-up, many praise bands in local churches begin jamming rock & roll, as their flesh gets wound up in the rock beat, and it becomes the master. John 8:34 says, “Jesus answered them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin.” Rock music is a driving, demonic beat that takes control of the flesh. 2 Peter 2:18-22 says, “For when they speak great swelling words of vanity, they allure through the lusts of the flesh, through much wantonness, those that were clean escaped from them who live in error. While they promise them liberty, they themselves are the servants of corruption: for of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he brought in bondage. For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning. For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them. But it is happened unto them according to the true proverb, The dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire.”
In the 60’s, rock music was the sound of rebellion, and any honest person who grew up in those years will tell you that. Today, Christian Rock music is also the sound of rebellion. The rebellion of multitudes of professing Christians who are tired of rules (God’s Word), and are crying out for all doctrinal barriers to be removed. The one-world false church is rising up, and it has already chosen its music. 2 Corinthians 6:17 says, “Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you.”
2 Corinthians 5:17 says, “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” When a person gets saved, God makes everything new — including that person’s music. Ephesians 5:6-19 says, “Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience. Be not ye therefore partakers with them. For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light: (For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth;) Proving what is acceptable unto the Lord. And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them. For it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret. But all things that are reproved are made manifest by the light: for whatsoever doth make manifest is light. Wherefore he saith, Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light. See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, Redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is. And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit; Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord.”