Campus Location

Abilene Campus (Residential)

Date of Award


Document Type




Degree Name

Master of Arts

Committee Chair or Primary Advisor

Lauren Lemley

Second Committee Member or Secondary Advisor

Joe Cardot


Hymns are one of the most popular forms of Christian worship, dating back to biblical times. Throughout history, hymns have been a way for people from all backgrounds and beliefs to express themselves in song. Hymnists have based their hymns on scriptures from the Bible, but have also written their hymns based on inspiration from scripture or divine revelation as well as their own earthly experience. To this day, hymns are still very present in both traditional and contemporary places of Christian worship, suggesting they are continually influential to the masses. My analysis looks at how hymns inform Christians’ theological framework, specifically how hymns shape and influence Christians’ perspective of God and Jesus, as well as their faith. To do this, I analyze hymns from three centuries: the eighteenth, nineteenth, and twentieth. Within each century I analyze four hymns using rhetorician Kenneth Burke’s theory, terministic screens. This theory examines how terms shape reality for humans and filter how humans perceive and understand the world around them. More specifically, terministic screens focus on how terms select, reflect, and deflect ideas about any given phenomenon, thus creating a variety of “screens” through which humans to understand reality. In my analysis, Burke’s theory enables me to examine how the hymns create different screens that inform Christians’ theological framework. My analysis reveals that each century has different screens to offer and provides a variety of perspectives for Christians to adopt, whether those screens inform their reality of who God and Jesus are, what their experience on Earth can or should be, what heaven looks like beyond this world, or how they should go about their daily lives. I hope that this analysis serves as a stepping stone for how Christians should evaluate the types of media they consume and how it informs their lives.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.



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