Tuesday, September 24, 2013
I Miss Singing Hymns
Confession. I love hymns. I know I'm a pierced, tattooed unconventional evangelical that one might expect would be all about the pop driven seeker-sensitive praise chorus music scene with it's hipster music leaders, lighting effects, all amped up with fast tunes and plenty of drums. And in the right setting I do enjoy that kind of Christian music, but mostly not.
Now I'm not prepared to say that this is a matter of theological import, just personal preference. I don't think drums are satanic or that it is impossible to get into a worshipful head space in such settings. I think many hymn lovers are quick to make statements of Orthodoxy against worship leaders who use more modern praise choruses. I am not. If I can't get into a worshipful attitude I have no one to blame but myself. Yes, for me, some musical styles make it easier, but no hurdle is too high for one who really wants to worship our Almighty God.
That said, I love a good hymn. I don't like stodginess, which many associate with hymns, but I love a stripped down acoustic worship style where the leader is just a leader, not a performer. They may be outstanding musicians, that always helps, but it's not a show about them or how good their production values, it's about the simplicity of quality music and lyrics bringing us into worship as a family and church at the foot of the Throne. I love the old hymns.
I love the meaningful lyrics of the old hymns. There is a reason that I can rarely get through all four verses of "It Is Well With My Soul" without crying, but can regularly sing my way through the repetitive verses of more modern praise choruses without feeling anything more than "how many times are we going to sing this one line?".
That is not to say there are not more contemporary songs that feel like hymns, or that every old hymn gets me in my soul. Nor do I wish to sing only hymns. I only say that I miss singing hymns. I love singing hymns. I wish that the type of evangelical churches I've gone to since college sang more hymns.
More than anything though, even more than hymn singing, I wish that I went to churches where worship was less of a show. I've seen churches that sing hymns, with full choirs, orchestras and soloists. That's a performance to me, not worship. I've seen churches that only do praise choruses with the leader under stage lights with mic levels so loud I can't even hear myself sing. That too is a performance to me, not worship. A classical concert or a pop rock concert is still a concert that invites observation over participation. The type of songs matter less to me than the quality, atmosphere and attitude.
I want music that invites true participatory corporate worship through song instead of audience observation. I want music that teaches deep and sound theology instead of just repeating the same cliche phrase until the audience is hypnotized. I want music that draws me to God without me having to work so hard to forget about the medium of the message. I want music lead by a musician who is talented, but doesn't feel the need to prove it every time they hit the stage, and instead wants to draw attention to the giver of all our talents. And yes, I want to sing a lot more hymns.
Like these . . . .
What type of music really gets you into a worshipful place? What are some of your favorite hymns?
If you liked this post you can check out many other great bloggers at these blog link ups every week!