Part of my 100 books in '08 experiment included reading several books from the Lyman Beecher Preaching Lectures (held annually at Yale Divinity School). The latest book I am reading from: The Church Confident by Leander Keck centers on the possibility of renewal in mainline Protestantism - a project dear to my heart.
In the first chapter he mentions the importance of hymnody. Using an Andrew Sullivan implementation, here is the "money quote:"
I cannot avoid the suspicion that one reason that neoorthodoxy did not really renew the mainline churches is that, however much it sobered their theology, it gave them no song to sing and produced no hymnody of note. Be that as it may, the experience of the Protestant Reformation, the Wesleyan movement, the revivals on the American frontier, and the Catholic Church today, shows that when the greatness of God becomes real, the church is renewed, and there is joy in the heart and a song on the lips of the people of God." (p.40-41)
I suppose the troubling aspect of my thought from the past few years (expressed here) is that I am having this thought a good 16 years after the publication of Keck's book!