Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Hymns - Endangered Species

I was reading a post by one of my old lecturers from Bible College days today. It seems like he misses some of the old hymns that used to be the core of our singing in our worship services and does not like some of the stuff we sing nowadays. (By the way he is a great guy, he taught me lots and this is not meant to be negative towards him just my take on muisc, hymns and stuff.) Here is an extract:

"Too often we are deafened by a so-called band whose repetitive words, often spelt incorrectly and unpoetically, assail us for up to forty minutes and is audaciously called “worship”. Just as bad, adoration of the Lord Jesus is addressed in sentimental and sugary terms more appropriate to a girlfriend or a boyfriend than the Saviour and Head of the Church.

Surely we can do better than to ape the styles and the mannerisms of the world! And what worries me more than the marginalisation of the hymn is, taking current fashion as an indicator, at what level is our spirituality? The Reformation produced those magnificent German chorales; The Methodist Revival produced the unrivalled hymns of Charles Wesley. But what are we producing? And will much of it last the test of time?" (More here)

Being brought up from a baby in church I became very familiar with Hymns and I have a great love for them. In some ways I wish we sung them more nowadays but really that's not the point.

Here is what I think:

  • Some old hymns had great theology some had bad same goes for today's songs.
  • Some old hymns will be remembered and sung forever some will be forgotten quickly. Same goes for today's songs.
  • Every new generation reinvents a little the style of music that they use to worship God and it seems like previous generations don't like that.
  • Many hymn writers used the "secular" music of the day and put different words to it. Maybe they too were accused of mimicking the "world" or could that be called being relevant to their culture?
  • God has his psalmists in every generation which he has gifted to reach their generation.
  • We spend too much time talking about "worship style". Listen it REALLY does not matter. Its WHO you worship not HOW.
  • Instead of trying to fit everybody into one all encompassing style why not offer church services with different styles? What do you think?
Honestly I love hymns. I wish we sang more. Writers like Crosby, Watts, Cowper and Wesley had a special gift for capturing the heart of God with incredible language. But I also love the "new" songs written by today's psalmists: Zschech, Tomlin, Redman and one of my favourites Lee McDerment. I for one will be singing their songs for a long time.

They all do a great job of helping me focus on the object of my worship - Jesus


Anonymous said...

I too love some of the old hymns, they are what I know. I also love some of the new hymns (once I have grasped the rythm - some are hard to follow music wise). However, a lot of new songs are drowned out by loud music and the lead singer/s cannot be heard. That does interrupt the worship for me because I spend too much time trying to work it out!

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