The themes are:
1a. Creation: we celebrate and respond to God's all-originating creativity.
Here, we praise God in the same way as undefiled folk in an unspoiled world would have done. His creativity includes his love for us, and evokes our response, but words like "faithfulness" and "mercy" do not occcur here because such words allude to our defection and its consequences. Of course we should "ne'er forget the wormwood and the gall", and all the subsequent themes allude to it, but we cannot celebrate our restoration without being aware from what we have defected, so creation as such needs to be one strand of our hymnody. Sadly I have found few hymns that focus on creation, and even some of these "glance forward", as when All creatures of our god and king, on reaching man, mentions suffering, death and Christ.
1b. Realignment: we celebrate and respond to God's realigning grace.
Here is hope for salvation but no allusion to its present experience. This is what ancient Israel knew, and some hymns based on their Psalms are included here. These contain some elements superseded in Christ, such as the mad-made temple, but I let these stand because removing them would be too disruptive; the Christian singer need only be aware that those sections are "in quotes".
These hymns reflect conflict and intend persevence. They express a general confidence in God to overcome evil, but without specific reference to Christ, through whom, we now know, he is doing so.
2a. Saviour: we celebrate Christ's bringing of salvation.
We celebrate his birth, growth, career, death, resurrection and session.
2b. Salvation: we express our receiving and following of Christ.
These hymns resemble those of Realignment, for godliness remains godliness, but with the present experience of salvation prominent.
3a. Task: we seek and celebrate the Indweller's guidance in carrying out our cultural task in this age.
Hitherto we sang of the individual's walk with God. Now we attend to the wider picture.
Here Ekklesia, the militant folk of God, is prominent.
3b. Goal: we hope for Christ's return and anticipate the age then to come.
"Come, lord, come!"
Here the new Zion (Ekklesia at rest) is prominent.
These themes constitute an ordered framework for Christian reverence, and in a long enough songfest I would sing one hymn of each theme, in order.
The order is roughly that of my Creed, but with some of the items of the Creation section moved to the end, to be approached not (as in the Creed) abstractly but in the context of salvation.
Where a hymn has more than one theme, I assign it to the latest of them. Thus, the treatment of other topics functions as a "recap" rather than an "anticipation".
In case six is too many, I have arranged the themes in three pairs, representing the three main areas.
The areas are (1) before salvation came, (2) salvation until now, and (3) the future.
In the first two pairs, the "a" is about God's work and the "b" is about our response, so for balance I suggest pairing 1a with 2b and 1b with 2a.
Finally, a few hymns for specific times or occasions constitute Theme "X".
Back to Hymnal.