Hymns: A Joyful Noise

"A hymn should be a prayer set to music," says the Rev. Gerrit Barnes of Denver's Christ Church (Episcopal). "It should follow the idea of 'make a joyful noise unto the Lord.''' Ideas change about what is joyful noise, and what is just plain noise. Church musicians and their pastors are quietly revising the nation's taste in congregational song, and in the process are consigning a surprising number of quaint old favorites to oblivion, while searching oblivion for revivable classics. Dr. Charles C. Hirt, professor of church music at the University of...

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