Why We Sing All The Songs
I’ve been seeing a lot of articles lately on why churches still sing hymns, why they don’t sing hymns, why they love new music and why new music has grown old. At our church, we have chosen not to choose. We sing a lot of different kinds of songs. We’ll probably never ditch the hymnals, but we’ll never be relegated to them, either. Here’s a look at why we sing what we do:
Argue if you will that archaic language has no place in a 21st century worship, but there is just something special about singing the same songs that Christians sang 500 years ago. Or 200 years ago. Or even just the same ones your grandmother sang while she washed dishes. There is a richness in the language, even when some of it is unfamiliar to us. Mystery, anyone? Hymns also give us great teachable moments. “Here I raise my Ebeneezer!” What the heck is an Ebeneezer? May I refer you to 1 Samuel 7:12. It’s actually kind of cool.
The Old New Stuff
The first round of what we consider “contemporary” worship music hit when I was a teenager back in the 80s. I countered worshipping with the frozen chosen of my home church (who were awesome people, but jeez was worship boring!) by going to Amy Grant and Michael W. Smith concerts. The only classical piece my piano teacher ever got me to learn was JS Bach’s Fugue #2 in C-minor—or at least the part of it that was the intro to Amy’s “Sing Your Praise to the Lord.” This era of music often gets over looked in the so-called “worship wars.” To make worship music a two-fold choice between hymns and today’s contemporary music is to miss out on a lot of good music with strong scriptural foundations and some great melodies.
The New New Stuff
Okay, I am the first to admit that there is a lot of bad contemporary Christian music out there—both theologically and musically. But I bet back in the day there were a lot of really bad hymns out there, too. They just never stood the test of time to make it into our denominationally-approved books.
There’s also a lot of good music…good music that is easy to sing and easy to play. This should not be considered the “dumbing down” of church music. In a world where church musicians are hard to come by, and nobody has time for choir practice, sing-able, play-able songs that allow us to praise God and reinforce what we believe are an important part of worship.
The “Secular” Stuff
I may lose my Presbyterian membership card over this one, but music doesn’t have to designated as “sacred” to actually be so. Of course, U2 has a whole catalog of theologically sound selections, but Christian themes can be found in all sorts of unlikely places—from Michael Jackson to Madonna and from Tupac to Toby Keith. We like to tell our folks that you can find the holy in everything. Shouldn’t that include music?
The Kids Stuff
Yes, sometimes we sing kid’s music in church…during worship…all of us. If we’re really serious about truly including our children in worship, then we ought to sing some of their songs instead of always insisting that they sing ours. Besides, kid’s music has some good theology that we all need to be reminded of and often, it makes us laugh…and that’s a good thing.
Why limit the many, many ways that we can praise God’s name in song and glorify God with Thanksgiving?