The theological potential of hymns has never been fully exploited.
This study shows how hymns communicate theology and enable those without a formal theological education to enter into theological debate.
A nineteenth century collection of English hymns and some contemporary Bemba hymns from the Zambian Copperbelt are examined and compared, within their theological, cultural and social contexts, to discover their response to death, judgement, heaven and hell. From this comparison and a study of how hymns are used in these churches, a model emerges whereby hymns can be used to make and shape theology. This model is observed in a Zambian parish and is also shown in practice in an English parish.
Finally, there is a reflection on the implications of this model for Missiology and Ecclesiology showing, among other things, the need for a radical reassessment of the relationship between professional theologicns and the rest of the Church.