A hymn is a sacred poem addressed to God, intended to be sung.
So to break it down:
- Hymns are sacred – they are set aside for holy purposes, doesn’t mean they’re perfect, they’re just employed for a higher purpose.
- Hymns are poems – they have a poetical structure, they use poetical devices, they are beautiful language.
- Hymns are addressed to God – they can be about God, or they can be to God, God can be the subject, or God can be the recipient of the hymn.
- Hymns are meant to be sung – this is what makes it different than a poem, a musical element or melodic delivery is intended
So now that we know what a hymn is, why do we sing them? Because singing hymns is a Biblical directive.
Be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.
Singing hymns is how we are to be filled with the Spirit! Singing hymns is a way to give thanks to God for every blessing we have in Jesus.
Singing hymns is also supposed to be a heart response. The physical act of singing doesn’t create worship. It needs to be sung from the heart.
Is it possible to worship and glorify God without singing hymns? You bet. Otherwise the mute person wouldn’t be able to worship. But God has a special role for music in worship. Music and worship have been uniquely joined together by God’s design.