Why Johnny Can’t Sing Hymns

Justin Wainscott has a fascinating, provocative interview at his site with Dr. T. David Gordon, author of Why Johnny Can’t Preach: The Media Have Shaped the Messengers. The interview is about Gordon’s sequel, Why Johnny Can’t Sing Hymns: How Pop Culture Re-Wrote the Hymnal (to be published by P&R early this summer).

Wainscott’s questions and Gordon’s answers are provocative and helpful. Here is one excerpt from Gordon.

There probably is a relationship between not reading poetry and tolerating contemporary worship music. If one reads poetry, one comes to appreciate language that is well-crafted; in the process, one becomes less accepting of language that is poorly crafted. So, most contemporary worship makes me cringe not only musically but also lyrically (not to mention theologically). The commercial forces in our culture want us to be content with pablum, because it is easier to produce pablum than really good stuff. Those commercial forces have pushed us away from demanding disciplines such as reading verse (where there is almost no room for significant commercial profit); and in the process, we as a culture no longer notice inferior art, because we are surrounded by it.

Check out the interview. This is a book I will be watching for.

One Comment

  1. I agree with the comment. I have been thinking about this lately. When I look at the difference between the old hymns and the contemporary choruses it is like the diffenence between the art of the Italian Masters and a Jackson Pollock; like the difference between Rodan's "Thinker" and a car covered in bottle caps. There is a huge difference in the musical and lyrical artistry of the two.

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