I have managed to get myself into a bit of hot water in some circles by posting my dislike of a certain worship song, but hey, I make no secret of my opinion of this song and people are free to disagree.
I have always believed that all songs and hymns are created out of a genuine desire to offer praise, worship etc to God, and that quite a lot of the time our likes and dislikes are more about taste than theology. At the same time there is a theory - which I don't entirely subscribe to - that says, essentially, what we sing shapes what we believe. One way and another, what we sing is important.
A few years ago I did some work looking at Christian and Hindu iconography for an essay I was writing, an exercise that made me realise how lax western protestantism, and particularly evangelical protestantism, is about training its artists and song writers. In Orthodox traditions, in order to be a Christian icon painter, a person must first be trained in theology - they are not just painting nice pictures. Similarly, although the statues used by Hindus can be made by skilled artisans, only a suitably trained and 'ordained' person can dot the eyes, invoking the deity. How different from our banner groups who are generally composed of people who like sewing and have not a clue about liturgy or theology. I wonder if the same is true of many of those who write hymns and songs?
'Good theology' does not automatically mean theology I agree with, rather it is grounded in careful study and prayerful reflection. In my view, the hymns and songs with the best theology - whether or not I like or endorse them - are written by people with some theological background. Hence, if asked for 'good theology' I would probably point to people such as Timothy Dudley Smith, Brian Wren and John Bell - to choose without much thought three rather different 'schools' - and away from some of the things that are popular in big gatherings, even when it draws very heavily on verses of scripture. Let's face it, if I could write songs (which thankfully I can't) I could have "fun" with things like the end of Psalm 137 (dashing babies' heads on rocks) or Proverbs 26:11 (dogs and vomit).
So, prompted by one or two others, this is your chance to share your views and/or the best and worst hymns/songs you have encountered. I recognise that it is easy to criticise, and I am sure the writers do indeed intend to offer worship, but maybe sometimes we need to be a little more critically aware of what we sing? Offers please!