Music

Quantity and Quality

Chris Salzman

I cannot remember the last time I used a hymnal for an entire worship service. And I'm not even sure if that's a bad thin. From the Kouya Chronicle comes a post about the number of new songs Christians produce and use in their services:

Our songs all came from the red-bound Methodist Hymnal. Despite the fact that we only sang out of the same book, we seemed to have a huge number of songs to sing and rarely repeated anything. But despite the fact that we had a huge variety of songs, no one ever needed to teach us new songs - there was something about the hymn tunes that made them easy to pick up.

My experience today is more or less exactly the opposite. We are living in an age where good (and it has to be said not-so-good) Christian songs are being written in unparalleled numbers. We no longer have a fixed canon of songs, defined by a hymn book, but we dip into the bottomless treasure trove that is songs-on-PowerPoint. Why then, do we seem to sing far fewer songs now than we used to in my youth? The same old new-songs keep coming round again and again (and singing some songs three or four times over makes it feel like they come round even more often. Not only that, but when a new song is introduced, someone has to teach it to us, it seems that Christian songs these days are so complex that a congregation can no longer just pick them up as they go along.

Or, we terrorize a perfectly fine song by singing it twice as fast and electric guitar solos...anyway...

Does your church vary what they sing from week to week? Obviously, the era of the hymn book is on the way out, do you think any of the current crop of praise songs will last longer than fifty years? Other thoughts?

(The picture is derived from a photo on Flickr.com by divine harvester)

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