I love them because they are sound theologically. Of course there are the rogue ones but for the most part the hymns grasp the glory of God. Both in His person and in the salvation of His people. Not only did the composers experience some of the truths they sang about but they get the truth from the Word of God. Their theology was almost impeccable (yes, an overstatement). Back when you could recognize Christianity in what was sang unto the Lord. I think it stems from the great teaching of the good old days of sound preaching and catechisms. In the days where parents raised their children in the fear and admonishment of the Lord. When the importance of cardinal doctrine was appreciated and propounded. When people understood the beauty and glory of the Gospel of Christ Jesus. Did I mention when theology mattered? Take, for instance, one of my favorite hymns Before the Throne of God Above. These words, “Because the sinless Saviour died. My sinful soul is counted free. For God the just is satisfied. To look on Him and pardon me,” sound like something one would read in George Smeaton’s books on the atonement of Christ! Or these word’s from Robert Robinson’s Come Thou Fount: “Jesus sought me when a stranger, Wandering from the fold of God; He, to rescue me from danger, Interposed His precious blood. Sound like something Leon Morris could have penned in his book The Atonement doesn’t it? As does Issac Watts’ When I Survey the Wondrous Cross:
“When I survey the wondrous cross, On which the Prince of glory died, My richest gain I count but loss, And pour contempt on all my pride. Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast, Save in the death of Christ my God! All the vain things that charm me most, I sacrifice them to His blood. See from His head, His hands, His feet,Sorrow and love flow mingled down!Did e’er such love and sorrow meet,Or thorns compose so rich a crown?
Here are some similar thoughts from George Smeaton and Leon Morris:
After the Socinian dicussions began, and principally turned on the point of punitive justice, it became common to speak out on the necessity of satisfying divine justice with more precision than had been used before. What the rationalistic party repudiated, the evangelical Church asserted as a precious and important truth; and in this way the phraseology found its way into the Church’s symbols, and into current use. It came in course of time, however, to contract a certain one-sidedness, because the course of discussion was narrowed to the inquiry, whether there was a judicial exercise of justice. But the language ought to comprehend the function of the lawgiver as well as of the judge; and hence it is important to interchange the expression “the satisfaction of divine justice” with the equivalent, but commonly less restricted, phrase, “the fulfilment of the divine law,”—that is, its fulfilment in the positive precept of love as well as in the endurance of the curse.*
It is probably this connection with sin that motivates the emphasis on blood. The high priest entered the sacred place ‘only once a year, and never without blood’ (Heb. 9:7). It was an adventure for the high priest to enter the Holy of Holies and whose outcome could not be foreseen. Thus it was essential that his entrance be attended by every precaution, and a most important precaution was the presentation of the blood of a sacrificial victim. Only with the blood could the people’s representative approach the presence of God. The writer to the Hebrews bears this in mind. He points out that Christ entered the heavenly Holy Place not ‘by means of the blood of goats and calves; but he entered the Most Holy Place once for all by His own blood, having obtained eternal redemption’ (Heb. 9:12). the contrast between the blood of Christ and the blood of animals is important, for ‘it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins’ (Heb. 10:4). Just as it was impossible for the animal blood to take away sin, so it was impossible for it to secure access. Christ’s blood is different. It really opens up the way into the presence of God.*
That is why I love hymns. Soli Deo Glory!
For His Glory,
*Morris, Leon. The Atonement (p. 83). Illinois: IVP, 1983. Print.
*Smeaton, G. (2009). The doctrine of the atonement, As taught by Christ Himself (Second Edition) (36–37). Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.