Just a quick post to recommend this two part article by Martyn Wendell Jones:
Holy Relics: The Hymnal, Part 1
Holy Relics: The Hymnal, Part 2
It's beautiful, and it's true, and it's everything I love about hymnody.
"The Church's songs convey its beliefs about God, but they also convey its beliefs about God's world.... Our hymnody is an ongoing act of co-creation. The world to come is made manifest through an anointing in language and music."
"To sing is also to fight. The song of the Church is a song of resistance. To open the faded red book and sing is to see otherwise, by the paradoxical light of a sound."
"To sing is to take these two bodies and make them as weightless as words, given without measure to the invisible, inaudible God."
"They sing with millions; they are alone in the dust and cold and darkness of this arid room, and my God, my God, how many are joining them."