reprinted with corrections and additions from The Herald (abridged version)
Hymns are songs written by many different song writers from different backgrounds. A single hymn book may contain more than 400 hymns, which talk about a diverse range of Christian subjects. There are different hymn books and churches choose a hymn book with hymns that are consistent with its church doctrines.
Some hymns dwell on different theological topics such as the state of the dead, the Sabbath, baptism, the Second Coming of Jesus and many others where churches do not always agree on.
In the church, hymns may serve as summarised sermons where they preach Jesus Christ as the Saviour of the world. During a worship service Christians have an opportunity to appreciate the spiritual messages carried in hymns by paying close attention to their lyrical content.
Hymns occupy a significant place in church where they incorporate worshippers by helping them to participate in church through music.
Different songwriters have written hymns to praise God after going through different experiences in their lives.
Among these song writers include C. Wesley, W. Bullock, J. Marriot, W. J. Mathams, Anna Warner, Annie R. Smith, Horatius Bonar and Fanny J. Crosby.
Among hymns sung by Oliver Mtukudzi include the song “Hakuna Zita Sera Jesu” while Cephas Mashakada sang “Jerusalema Musha Wangu” from the hymn book of the Methodist Church in Zimbabwe.
Other artists who sang church hymns include the Mbare Singers, Nyasha Dzedenga Group, Shower Power, Pastor Bonnie Deuschle, the late Mr Bulk and many others.
Although some of these artists have been criticised in some circles for failing to write their own songs, one should not ignore the creativity with which they sang the hymns while the reception to their music bore testimony to the fact that church hymns have a powerful effect on music lovers.
An American Protestant Fanny J. Crosby is one example of a songwriter who dedicated her life to serving God through songwriting. She became blind, following a surgical mishap on her eyes, but during her lifetime, she wrote thousands of hymns, which touched millions of lives of Christians across the world before dying at 95. During her time, she gave a testimony that hymns kept many Christians alive, because they were able to connect with their Creator through singing.
Some research studies have found out that people can remember 20 % of the sermon, thereby making hymns an edifying tool because they are constantly repeated.