Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Hymns, or Modern Worship

Different churches that I have been to have a different idea of proper worship that they are comfortable with. I was raised in a very structured, old fasioned church till grade five. I remember as I was learning to read, I would follow the words in the hymnals with my fingers and trace the patterns of the notes.
Then we moved to a more modern church- one with drums, a guitar, and the powerpoint "hymnals." It was more like music that surrounded me outside of church.
As I am now older and thinking about what worship means, a couple things stand out about these genres. If you listen to older hymns, they focus more on the glory of God and his power. They are worshiping God as a being. Newer songs tend to focus on either our need for God, or what he has done for us. Through they're generally not self-centered, the self is a part of the song.
For instance, think of one of my favorite hymns: How Great Thou Art. The name says it all.
Compare that to My Savior My God (Aaron Shust), one of the top songs last year on Christian radio stations.
Now, is this shift necesarily bad? No. It is merely a more personal shift, and how could that hinder a personal religion? Besides, if you consider David Crowder's opinion in Praise Habit (a wonderful book, but that's worth another post) worship should be part of life. As long as the words are Biblically supported and heartfelt, worship can take many various forms.
However, hymns have value too. They're time tested and hold some solid theology. What are you guys' favorite hymns?


Markus Lemke said...

Pretty astute analysis, Chelsea. I love the old hymns too, but at the same time want to resist the temptation to condemn the "new stuff" wholesale, like too many others of my generation tend to do. A few of my favorite old ones are "Leaning on the Everlasting Arms" and "O the Deep, Deep Love of Jesus", not to mention "Great is Thy Faithfulness". What's most important to me in musical worship is the sense that the composer has put everything they have into crafting the music as well as the lyrics, to produce a work of art that is the best they can do. I have become tired of worship music that's obviously derivative of things that other people have already done, and indeed, my biggest criticism of modern "Christian" music is that it appears for the most part to be either content with mediocrity or striving to copy what other "secular" musicians have already done. There are, thankfully, notable exceptions - including the stuff our very own Jerry Proppe writes.

While this is admittedly a highly subjective topic, I still feel that it is not only possible but easy to spot the difference between something that's "good enough" and something that is truly a work of art. Notwithstanding the fact that we are called to make a joyful noise unto the Lord, I think God deserves works of art as sacrifices of praise....

How to judge the difference between the two? Well, maybe that's why not all the old hymns have stuck around, but the great ones have. I figure 25 years from now, we'll also still be singing a select few of the new ones we're singing now.

Just my thoughts!

Markus Lemke
(Father of Rae)

AllThingsLovely said...

El Shaddai is my favorite.