Kele Okereke stated that the songs on Hymns are about spiritual faith and devotion. However, he denied that the album title was a reference to any kind of religious epiphany within Bloc Party. "I grew up in a religious house so I'm fully aware of the imagery, but I'm not Christian. It's not something I subscribe to," he said.
Instead, the idea for the record came to Okereke after seeing author Hanif Kureishi (My Beautiful Laundrette) speak about evangelical art. "And that point stuck with me because it seemed like for me music had originated in a religious place," he said. "The first music I ever heard was hymns at school. I started to think, if I was going to make music that had a spiritual dimension, that was sacred to me and to the things that I held important, how would I do it?"