Most hymns/praise songs written in the last 100 years are happy. Most are life-centered, all about “I” and “Me.” They are glorified humanistic rhymes.
There is much discussion on hell these days. More and more “evangelicals” are distancing themselves from the doctrine of hell. It seems too mean, vindictive and non-lovey to be true.
Hey, we’re busy being happy; how dare God ruin our happy with talk of burning sinners.
Ignoring hell is our attempt to pretend it isn’t there. Hell doesn’t get much air time in our worship. The fact is that our teaching on God is so inept we don’t know what to do with hell.
Working hell into worship is like bringing winning baseball to Wrigley Field–it just doesn’t seem to fit.
Yet hell used to be mentioned more frequently. They even wrote songs that mentioned hell and sang them in worship. Isaac Watts, who wrote hundreds of hymns including “O God our Help in Ages Past” and “I Sing the Mighty Power of God,” wrote hell into many hymns.
Here are a few sample verses from various Wattsian hymns:
What bliss will fill the ransomed souls,
When they in glory dwell,
To see the sinner as he rolls,
In quenchless flames of hell.
May I with those for ever dwell
Who here were my delight!
While sinners, banished down to hell,
No more offend my sight.
But vengeance and damnation lies
On rebels who refuse the grace;
Who God’s eternal Son despise,
The hottest hell shall be their place.
There endless crowds of sinners lie,
And darkness makes their chains;
Tortured with keen despair they cry,
Yet wait for fiercer pains.
Not all their anguish and their blood
For their old guilt atones,
Nor the compassion of a God
Shall hearken to their groans.
I’ll stop there! Not bad, eh? Would enjoy hearing a modern praise song mention hell. I think it would be a very positive thing for our modern sin-tolerant churches. Hell is an easy word to make rhymes with too, there’s really no excuse.