Saturday, February 18, 2006

There Is Still Hope!

There seems to still be hope for reviving the old hymns which have mostly disappeared from our churches of today. Most churches have opted for contemporary worship style songs instead of the well-known hymns of yester year, sprinkled with a few well-known worship songs.

I, for one, miss the hymns. I was brought up on them, and get more meaning from them than I do a chorus that has words which are continously repeated. I don't think repetition gets you any closer to God than a hymn with meaning. A hymn sang at the right time in a service can make you feel so close to God, and a chorus with the same words repeated 10 or more times can make you want to scramble to be the first out the door! I do not like the loudness of the new music, or the rap-sounding music. Call me old, set in my ways, or whatever meets your fancy, but that is the way I feel. I've often sat in church, praying for the music to come to an end. And, I know lots of people who skip early church and come in time for the sermon. The music is not where it is at!

The Dallas Morning News says hymns are now returning to those contemporary churches. People want hymns, and perhaps the music or choir director is beginning to listen. Older people have been swept aside in order for this new craze of music to 'bring in the young people'. What was wrong with the hymns that drew me in, as a little girl, and the many other thousands of people, who now have to listen to the music that rings in our ears, and makes our heart race? I, for one, do not think God is pleased with some of the ways music is being displayed in some churches. It's more like a show, rather than a worship service, getting closer to Him. It is our desire to feel GOD in the service, not be rocked off our feet by loud noise! And, I, for one, cannot get into a service with music that just doesn't reach my heart. Makes me feel like the world is moving in on God's territory. And, I'm ready to return to music that reaches my heart, rather than what now 'raises the rafters'!

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Dan McGowan said...

I am a music and worship leader with over 25 years experience in this area within the local church. Like you, I have seen just about everything.

I don't think you are old and set in your ways. But I do think you are a bit trapped in what you THINK "church" is SUPPOSED to look like, or be. That is natural.

I understand a love for a particular type of song in worship. But that's all that it is - a preference. Nothing more, nothing less.

God is NOT unhappy when people are honestly worshiping Him. And He is greatly disappointed when people are only pretending to worship Him.

I have seen chorus singers look like they are worshiping God, but who could care less - as they gaze at their Blackberries during the time of singing. I have also seen hymn singers who obviously could care less as they sing great songs of joy and praise as if they have just been force-fed cod liver oil.

The songs are not the issue.

The issue is the heart.

when our hearts worship, God is pleased - whether it's hymns, hip hop or heavy metal.

Barbara said...

No, I'm not 'trapped'...I love church and worship time. But, I think there is a place for both hymns and worship songs in a church. When you completely do away with hymns just to appeal to the young, something is wrong. You are leaving out the rest of the congregation.

I do have to disagree with one thing though - how can you worship towards GOD in Church - with secular music? In that respect, the songs would be the issue. It's hard to tune out such stuff, and my ears ears can hardly stand the noise that usually comes from the speakers now.

Most people in our part of the country (and I live IN the country) who came and heard heavy metal in my church would think we'd lost our salvation, believe me.

Anonymous said...

I identify with you, Barbara. I am feeling cross about the "worship music" in my evangelical Bible church.

I came late to evangelicalism from a dead mainline church in the mid-west. In the early 80s the scripture songs were, for the most part, at least tuneful. I can think of "You Are My Hiding Place" as an example. Now, it seems that the music is discordant and unharmonic.

I wonder if what has happened is that "worship teams" have picked out songs that have been sung as solos by today's Christian vocalists, and have tried to bring them to a worship service sans notes. Those of us who don't listen to today's Christian artists on our radios are truly left in the dark about how to follow along with that kind of music. At our church there is no need for hymnals any more .. everything is written on the screen. If you love harmony .. and singing .. as I do, well where do you go to find what the harmony might be?

I'm afraid that I have sinned against one member of our praise team in too boldly saying that it is too loud and not pretty. I have made arrangements to see her and talk it through and seek her forgiveness.

All I can think of in terms of worship is that God loves harmony (or unity) .. of his people. And I believe He also likes balance. That would be my dearest hope at our church. That the Worship Team wouldn't play every single Sunday. Perhaps there could be Sundays when just pianos set the tone for worship; when trios and quartets .. even soloists .. could provide music.

If I could choose, I know that I would not attend a rock concert every weekend. And that is what I feel like I'm subjected to every week in my place of worship. I long for the lovely days of choirs, tuneful songs, and occasional bands.

Barbara said...

Anonymous, I identify with every word you've said. I have also complained, and tried to make them understand that there are others out there that love hymns, and why can't we have a balance of the two? That's why I thought it was so promising to see these churches that are contemporary moving towards hymns again.

They do pick out songs 'they like', and incorporate them into the worship services, even before they know them good. And, before the congregation learns them, those are 'out the door' and they are on to others. I don't listen to today's Christian artists, since most sing differently than I like. As I said, I love songs that say something, rather than repeating the same words over and over. I don't think I have to say, "I love you,Jesus" 20 times before He hears me! There is one they sing in my church,that honestly, if needed be, you could slip out to the restroom and back before they got through those last words!

The hymnals were moved out of our church ages ago. I played the piano and 3 other women helped sing (we sang together with a band, at the time - which we no longer do, and have no band) and long before we were moved - we had to hunt for hymnals, if we wanted to sing a hymn. I no longer play the piano, and certainly couldn't follow them on the keyboard. I can play it, but not with the kind of music they use for today's songs. I like to HEAR the words in music, if you know what I mean. This morning, I listened intently at the music for one song, and had I not known the tune, I'd never have been able to sing to the music! You can imagine what the people unfamiliar with those songs think, when they come in our doors. My husband refuses to go listen to the music sung today.

Oh, wouldn't it be wonderful to have choirs that sang hymns - even some great contemporary music, and maybe an occasional worship tune. Why is it that they think we need to hear worship songs all the time? Amazing Grace is enough to draw people to the altar - even How Great Thou Art!

Carol said...

Barbara, my band plays a lot of hymns. And we do praise songs, too. Pslam 40 tells us to sing a new song. And we do. We also do the old stuff...sometimes in new ways.

One thing to remember - the hymns in our hymnal were once the topic of controversy in churches. As were organs. As was harmony. If you take a hard look at the history of church music, none of the changes came without controversy.

I guess we could go back to chanting the Psalms in acapella unison. I'd go for it.

Different people respond differently to different types of music. Praise God for not creating us all the same!

Barbara said...

Oh, I agree, Carol. But, what I'm saying is that there should be healthy mix of songs - not just decide there will be nothing but Praise & Worship songs.

When we sang, we sang both hymns and choruses, and often had to make changes. Nothing wrong with praise & worship - but it's those songs that make me feel as though I'm going into a club that bothers me. And, sometimes they are SO loud, the music rings in my ears. Those that love noise at a young age are going to find out it ruined their hearing in old age. :)

J. Stephen Conn said...

Bravo for your post, Barbara. Back in the 1970's I was one of the first pastors I knew of who started singing choruses "off the wall," but we still used a few old hymns too. In recent years I have left church disappointed so many times because not one familiar hymn was sung.

Today's "contemporary" churches are cheating themselves by forsaking the old hymns. I hope more will begin blending the old with the new.

Barbara said...

Thanks, Stephen. I certainly agree those that do not sing hymns are missing a few blessings. And, it's keeping the young people from getting to know the hymns or have an appreciation for something substantial, when they are older.

I was sitting in church last night, during a great service - set off by the songs sang, which were different - more meaningful. And, across my mind ran this sentence, "I will be changed from this creature that I am." Kids who haven't heard "Peace In The Valley" would not know what song that came from. But, I immediately started singing it in my mind, and remembering the fellow who sang that in my church, when I was young.