Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Hymns or Choruses?

There is and has been an interesting debate among many denominations and churches regarding music styles; i.e., should we sing choruses? or should we go back to the old hymns from the hymn books that sit unused in the pews? Some would argue, that those old hymns teach theology as well as worship and praise to the Almighty.

I came into the church around 40 years ago and a chorus was the exception, mostly hymns from the books were sung. We even had teachers come and teach a "singing school" to teach the congregation how to read shape notes, sing in harmony and teach new songs from the gospel hymn books. I can tell you, with the congregation singing in 4 part harmony was a beautiful sound to hear and behold. I miss that harmony today in the congregation.

Here is a sample piece written by Dan Betzer, prominent Assembles of God Minister.

"ByLine with Dan Betzer" Program #2751
Monday, April 19, 2004
"The issue of balance"

I have been deluged with responses to my ByLines concerning hymns in the church. They have run about ten to one in favor of singing at least one hymn in every service. It is interesting that the no’s have come from young worship leaders who have protested that their church would lose its young people if hymns were sung.

None of the protesters mentioned the older adults they are losing in the meantime. Why is it so hard to understand that this is not a “one or the other” situation. I love the chorus, “Like a rose trampled on the ground He took the fall and thought of me above all.”

Wonderful song! But then so is “The Old Rugged Cross.” The detractors tell me that attendance declines if hymns are sung. Not so. Our church is filled with thousands of people, over half of whom are under the age of 30. Only 15% of them are my age.

The issue, it seems to me, is balance. As a pastor, it is my responsibility to reach as many of our area’s half million residents as possible. That means our approach has to be varied, anointed, interesting and relevant.

I suspect that if many of the young worship leaders would lead the singing worship with their eyes open, they would see many folks not singing, not responding, some even leaving. One other question: is there some scriptural admonition demanding that we sing the choruses six or seven times in a row?

If we are really singing them to God, do you not think He understood the lyric the first time around? Oh, by the way, it is possible to sing sitting down. "

Dan pastors in Ft Meyers FL

No one with rational thought would deny that the music of a younger generation would not set well with the older folks.

Our church, North West Family Church, is implementing two distinct styles of service beginning in September, 2007. The Classic (More traditional) will be held at 9:00 AM and the more contemporary with drums, guitars and sound much louder will perhaps appeal to the younger generations. Our honest attempt is to meet people where they are and provide a place where they can come and enjoy the worship experience.

Tomorrow, I will tell you about the farmer who went to town and learned the difference between an Hymn and a chorus.

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