Song vs Hymn: Difference and Comparison

A song and a hymn refer to any music with lyrics. However, both have considerable differences. A song here refers to a praise song, also called a worship song.

On the other hand, a hymn is also known as a traditional hymn. A song refers to an informal song sung in churches in God’s praise. In contrast, a hymn is known as a formal song sung during God’s public worship.

Key Takeaways

  1. A song is a musical composition with lyrics and melody, while a hymn is a religious song sung in church.
  2. Songs can be secular or religious, while hymns are always religious.
  3. Hymns have a more solemn and traditional tone than songs.

Song vs Hymn 

A song is a musical composition intended for entertainment or artistic expression. It can be of any genre or style and has lyrics that convey a message or tell a story. A hymn is a type of religious song used for worship or praise. Hymns are composed of religious lyrics.

Song vs Hymn
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A song refers song sung in churches in the praise of God. Other names of a song are worship songs or praise songs. It is an informal song with music as the main defining feature.

Praise songs are inseparable from their music. They are sung in unison and therefore, involve no four-part harmony. The music range is limited and not influenced by classical songs. Praise songs are sung by a single individual or a group. 

A Hymn is defined as a formal song sung during the public worship of God. Metrical psalms may also be categorised as hymns. Hymns consist of only words.

In addition, the tune to which a hymn is sung is known as the hymn tune. The music of a hymn is known as Chordal, which consists of a pattern of melody, harmony, and rhythm. Its main function is to highlight the words in a hymn.

Comparison Table

Parameters of ComparisonSongHymn
DefinitionA song refers to a song sung in churches in the praise of God. It is also known as a praise song or worship song. A Hymn refers to a formal song sung during the public worship of God. Metrical psalms may also be categorised as hymns. 
Nature of tune/lyricsPraise songs represent a distinct approach to theology, worship, and music ; they have distinct lyrics and music. Hymns are always sung to the same rhythm or tune.  
Musical Make-up A number of musical instruments are used when singing the songs. Most instruments are electric in nature, such as electric guitars. Hymns consist of only words. The music of a hymn is known as Chordal, whose main function is to highlight the words in a hymn. 
Composition Praise songs are sung in unison and involve no four part harmony. The music range is limited and not influenced by classical songs. Most often, a hymn is a four part harmony. 
Founding year Praise songs were founded in the 1960s. Hymns have been known for hundreds of years. 

What is a Song?

A song refers to an informal song sung in churches in the praise of God. Also called a worship song or praise song, it has music as the main defining feature. Praise songs are inseparable from their music.

Generally speaking, these songs represent a distinct approach to theology, worship, and music. Every worship song has its own music and lyrics. 

Praise songs are sung in unison and, therefore, involve no four-part harmony. The music range is limited and not influenced by classical songs. Praise songs are sung by a single individual or a group.

Consequently, these songs call for the leadership of a single person or a group. A number of musical instruments are used when singing the songs. 

Most instruments are electric in nature, such as electric guitars. Praise songs have a short shelf life and are even disposable. Consequently, only a small number of these songs have survived over the years.

The origin of praise and worship songs can be traced back to the countercultural, charismatic and Jesus movements of the 1960s and 1970s. 

Praise songs are strongly influenced by current culture. Hymns have a superior position as compared to praise songs in churches. Conclusively, hymn songs continue to be an important part of church gatherings. 

song

What is a Hymn?

A Hymn is defined as a formal song sung during the public worship of God. Metrical psalms may also be classified as hymns. Hymns consist of only words.

In addition, the tune to which a hymn is sung is known as the hymn tune. For instance, “ Rock of Ages ” is sung to the hymn tune of Top Lady and “ Amazing Grace ” is sung to the hymn tune of New Britain.

The music of a hymn is known as Chordal, which consists of a pattern of melody, harmony, and rhythm. Its main function is to highlight the words in a hymn.

In addition, the structure of a hymn has been adapted from classical music, which is its strength. The melodies and lyrics of the hymn are interchangeable. 

Most often, a hymn is a four-part harmony. It is always sung to the same rhythm or tune, like 8.8.8.8. Hymns have been known to reinforce positivity through their combination of harmony, music, and melody.

They take into account the mind, sense, and emotions of each worshipper to spread enlightenment and optimism. 

Hymns have been in existence for hundreds of years. They still continue to be an important part of church gatherings. The worshippers congregate to worship God as they sing the hymns. 

hymn

Main Differences Between Song and Hymn

  1. A song, also known as a praise song or a worship song, is sung in churches in God’s praise. In contrast, a hymn is a formal song sung by God’s public worship.
  2. Every worship song has its music and lyrics and represents a distinct approach to theology, worship, and music. On the other hand, Hymns are always sung to the same rhythm or tune, like 8.8.8.8. 
  3. A number of musical instruments are used when singing the songs. An example includes electric guitars. A hymn, however, consists of only words. The music of a hymn highlights the words and is known as Chordal.
  4. Praise songs are sung in unison and, therefore, involve no four-part harmony. It is not influenced by classical songs. In contrast, a hymn is a four-part harmony.
  5. Praise songs came into existence in the 1960s. On the other hand, hymns have been in existence for hundreds of years. 
Difference Between Song and Hymn
References
  1. https://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=A7ZVAAAAcAAJ&oi=fnd&pg=PA9&dq=hymns+and+praise+songs&ots=sG3q6wxbiH&sig=FaipnbjC9lD6osUV9kWGo933zfw 
  2. https://www.agingsuccessfullytoday.com/uploads/9/7/0/6/9706301/2015_vol_3_artistic_theologian_-_ruth_hymns_and_contemporary_worship_songs.pdf 

Last Updated : 14 October, 2023

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