After the secularized Christmas rush has washed over us like a tsunami, after everyone’s heart has overflowed with good cheer, after we’ve all sung the traditional hymns of the season, perhaps we would do well to pause and gauge whether all of it really made a difference … Singing is a primary weapon of warfare for the Church, and we should expect to hear the howling of demons in the wake of our Christmas caroling. Singing expresses who we are; singing also forms us into who we will be. Singing expresses the faith of the Church; but singing also shapes the faith of the Church (“the rule of singing of the rule of faith”?). The ancient church understood this:
“Apparently is was the example of the Eastern church and a need to meet the Arian hymn-singers on their own grown that brought hymn-singing to the Western church. Hilary of Poitiers and Ambrose of Milan are credited with the introduction of hymns. Augustine records that Ambrose encouraged hymn-singing among those keeping vigil in the church premises to prevent the Arians from staging a coup, as it were,” (A Sacrifice of Praise: An Anthology of Christian Poetry in English from Caedmon to the Mid-Twentieth Century, 79).