I went to church today (a mostly regular occurance but with Kevin's brain issues, I also miss a lot) and, as we do each Sunday, we worshipped the Lord in song. I find that music can be uplifting, unwinding and a great form of worship. Like most churches of the evangelical frame, our church has moved away from the hymnal to the overhead. Along with this move, the church also moved away from the traditional hymns.
This is not necessarily a Bad Thing, but as I was singing today, I noticed the same thing I have been noticing for a while about the newer songs (or are they hymns?). They don't seem to have the heart of the older ones. Compare two songs.
Be Thou My Vision - this is one of my favourite hymns of all times. It gives me chills and brings tears to my eyes no matter who is singing. Don't prefer that, um, modern version? Try this one. They all have the same effect on me. Well, OK not this particular version. but it uplifts me in another way in that it makes me laugh hysterically. Not sure if it was the intent.
Shout to the Lord- possibly the best new worship song that there is. (And before you click it, be forewarned, the gal singing can really wail! You may want to turn down your volume). I love this song. I can't hear it without singing along. But it's just not the same.
To me, the difference is that the newer songs are more about what God has done for us. I mean, really, nothing does compare to the promise we have in God. There's a lot of truth in that chorus! But the more traditional hymns are about how we can live for God. Be thou my vision and just a closer walk with thee (um, Kevin these are the two hymns I want sung at my funeral - Be Thou My Vision with acoustic guitar and Just A Closer Walk With Thee in a dixieland band style - take notes please). Even the titles of these two songs is about how we can live for God. Maybe I'm wrong. The newer songs just feel... fake sometimes. Like we have to sing them with a smile on our faces because of all of the wonderful things God has done. Sometimes, I don't feel like smiling.
Neither type of song is better than the other. There has been many articles written on the subject. This one, in particular has me categorized:
2. There is an incredible amount of selfishness in the Church. Many church members are looking for a church that will "meet their needs" above all else. This tends to produce a consumeristic mentality that leads individuals to a place of evaluation instead of participation. Often the framework of the hymns vs. choruses debate needs to be reframed so that members realize that it is not "all about me" but instead it is "all about Him".
Nice, hey? You want to feel the most fulfilled that you can on Sunday mornings, and you get labelled selfish. It is "all about Him" but we each relate in different ways and there is nothing wrong with desiring a church to meet that need. In fact, I would say a church would be failing if they didn't meet any (reasonable) need presented to them.
I am not about to request my church change their worship style. I will continue to attend and I will continue to sing the songs on the overhead and worship God with all of my heart. When I need my fix of the old style hymns, there is always the Internet. :)