Question about "fallen" hymns/songs and their "fallen" composers


This is a thread that I think primarily Protestants and ex-Protestants will be able to answer because of the variety of “special music” (solos, choir numbers, etc.) done in the typical Protestant worship service and in various Protestant church activities (pageants, VBS, concerts, potlucks, get-togethers in private homes, etc.)

But Catholics are more than welcome to chime in.

Those of you who were around in the 1980s remember the wonderful song, “Thank You” by Ray Boltz. It was a sensation. The first time I heard it on our local Christian radio station, I pulled my car over and cried, and I heard a lot of other Christians say that they did the same thing. A few months after it came out, a soloist and I were asked to do it at a dear Christian lady’s funeral in our church–it was the perfect song to honor this woman.

As you know, Ray Botlz has come out as gay. He now lives an openly gay life. He has not renounced Christianity, but he left his church and is part of a church that welcomes openly gay people. He also left his wife of 33 years (with whom he had 4 children) .

If you aren’t familiar with the story, you can google it. Here’s a link to a fairly calm version of the story:

Some versions are not as '“calm.”

So here’s my question–should Christians still be singing “Thank You” in church settings?

I personally LOVE this song, and think it is a fantastic song that needs to be heard. So many people serve in many different ministries in their churches, and often never really get any kind of thank you. I would love to see what would happen if it were done as a “prelude” in my Catholic parish. I think the most of the congregation would be in tears.

Also, this song reminds us of the connection that Christians all over the world have with each other. When a Christian does a kind act or loving service, they often don’t see just how many people they affected for good and for God.

But…the song is also sad because we think of Ray Boltz and his decision, and we agonize over just why this happens to people. I personally disagree with Mr. Botlz’s decision, and I believe he should have remained chaste and stayed with his wife and family in obedience to the Bible (since he’s not Catholic, he doesn’t have a concept of remaining obedient to the Church).

I think my question could be asked as a general query. SHOULD Christians include hymns and songs in their public worship services that were written by people who have rebelled against Christian teaching? Or should we stay away from these songs and hymns for various reasons, mainly because they might be an “occasion for sin” for weaker brothers and sisters.

Thanks for your input on this question, which troubles me personally because I play for several churches, including Protestant.


Well, we sing A Mighty Fortress Is Our God, by Martin Luther, so…


I’m not familiar with the song you are referencing, but my sense is that it isn’t the author/composer that’s important. Doctrine matters and hymns must reflect doctrine.
If the hymn you mentioned reflects Church doctrine, I see nothing wrong with its usage.


This. If we start cutting music because the composer was a sinner, where does it stop? We’ll end up with no music at all.


Exactly. Between Dan Schutte and all the famous composers from past eras who didn’t lead totally holy, Catholic lives, we’d lose most of our music.

As for being influenced by the behavior of some hymn composer, the average Catholic doesn’t know who composed what hymn or what they did in their personal life. If we want a role model other than Jesus or Mary, we’re encouraged to look to the canonized saints, not to the guy who wrote the offertory hymn.


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