For as long as there has been man, there has been music. Music was created to worship God. Throughout history, the music has evolved from folk music, to solemn chants, to hymns, to the modern music we think of today. In today’s churches, there is a rift among church goers whether or not they should go away from the traditional hymns and focus on just modern music. It is important to have a combination of modern and traditional music because each genre has something different to offer.
When you think of traditional hymns, what do you picture? Do you picture a stuffy choirmaster instructing the congregation to go at an incredibly slow tempo? Do you picture an organ in the background or perhaps a piano? When I think of hymns, I think of poetry. When it comes to music, I am a lyrics girl. My main focus is what the words are trying to say, and what the writer is trying to tell me. The lyrics of modern day Christian music is simple and repetitive. That’s not always a bad thing; the repetitiveness can be great for meditation and prayer, but a lot of times what I’m feeling is complex and I want to express that. One complaint of modern worship music is that it all sounds the same. I have found this to be somewhat true. I love the diversity involved with hymns. When I want to worship, I want a song that is expressing what I am feeling. One of my favorite hymns is “How Great Thou Art.” The chorus is:
“Then sings my soul, my Savior God to thee; how great thou art, how great thou art! Then sings my soul, my Savior God to thee; how great thou art, how great thou!”
To me, nothing is more prayerful then when I am in a church service and this hymn is played. It reminds me just how great God is and brings about some personal introspection.
Modern worship music is repetitive and simple to learn, making it simple for anyone to learn. This is important when it comes to new members. It can be off putting to have a bunch of unfamiliar songs that are complex in nature, for hymns are much more complex musically. Modern worship music allows everyone to feel comfortable. One of my favorite modern worship songs is “10000 Reasons.” The chorus of this song is
“Bless the Lord oh my soul
Oh my soul
Worship His Holy name
Sing like never before
Oh my soul
I'll worship Your Holy name”
To me, this song is a prayer and puts me into a mediation, something I desperately need with my crazy schedule. Sometimes we just need to be reminded that it’s important to slow down and remember Who’s in charge.
Traditional hymns like “What a friend we have in Jesus” focus on Jesus while many of today’s modern music just mentions God, but not Jesus. One example would be the song “One Thing Remains,” which doesn’t even mention God, just "Your Love" and "You". Don’t get me wrong, I love the song, it just seems like so many modern worship songs are moving from the true reason we’re singing: Jesus. There is a “me centric” focus with modern worship music that you don’t find in the traditional hymns. Some of the lyrics of “One Thing Remains” include the lines:
“It never runs out on me”
“And I never, ever have to be afraid”
Hymns simply have a different focus to them than modern worship music. Having both traditional and modern church music allows worshippers to become introspective and to meditate. It is important to keep the traditional hymns around so that we can keep the true meaning of worship through music in church.