Although different Baptist churches use many different hymnals, the one officially titled the Baptist Hymnal is that officially used by the Southern Baptist Convention, one of the largest church associations in the world. The use of the Baptist Hymnal, therefore, is extremely widespread.
Of course, many of the hymns contained in the Baptist Hymnal are fairly well known and widely used songs of the Christian church, regardless of specific denominational beliefs. “Amazing Grace“, “This Is My Father’s World“, and “To God Be the Glory“, for example, can all be heard in churches of almost any denomination across the world on a Sunday morning. However, the influence of specifically Baptist beliefs can certainly be felt throughout the Baptist Hymnal. For example, most Baptist churches and pastors tend to emphasize the free will of the individual in choosing to invite Christ into his or her life during the process of salvation, as opposed to certain other denominations that place more emphasis on the sovereign will of God in choosing individuals to save. This Baptist school of thought is illustrated in many different songs in the Baptist Hymnal, such as “I Have Decided to Follow Jesus.”
Most Baptist churches also emphasize the importance of baptism itself, not to actually save a person from their sins, but to mark them as having been already cleansed from their sins via salvation. Individuals are expected to be baptized before they become members of a Baptist church. Baptism is performed via immersion in some type of pool of water; this is illustrated and celebrated by such songs in the Baptist Hymnal as “Once in the Blest Baptismal Waters.”