Question for thought:
If the singing of hymns were to cease, what (if anything) would be lost?
I’m curious if in 500 years people will ask the same question about contemporary worship music (or what they will recognize as hymns to their generation). I feel that this question is going to be hard for me to answer because I imagine a lot of people won’t agree with me, SO, please don’t stone me. Thanks :)
To be honest with you, for the most part the singing of hymns in my life have ceased. It’s not that I think it’s wrong to sing them or just plain don’t like them, but for the past several years I haven’t really had many come up at the churches I’ve been at. And to be even more brutally honest with you, I don’t feel that I have lost anything. My belief and faith are strong and growing and I worship with contemporary music the same way that older gents and ladies worship with hymns.
I guess I get confused about this whole idea of hymns being theologically in depth and what not because I find that both hymns and contemporary worship exalt and praise the same God and the same story of Jesus. Now I think that artists and songwriters could write deeper into theology, but that is up to God’s guidance their artistic vision. Also, I grew up in a traditional hymn singing church and I never recognized any deep theology in the lyrics I sang so making a switch over to contemporary wasn’t a huge difference to me. I found that I was lifting my voice to praise God either way.
I think that even Psalms themselves, can be the author simply writing praise to God without getting too theologically in depth.
Plus the Bible seemed pretty concerned with singing “new songs“ to the Lord. This idea shows up at 6 times throughout the Psalms, once in Isaiah, and twice in Revelation. Now perhaps I’m wrong, but I feel that 200 years (or however long we’ve been singing hymns) is quite a long time for a song to be considered new. Not that we can’t continue to sing them, but if this idea shows up several times in the Bible, then perhaps God wants us to use our creativity to make more songs.
I think we need to realize that God has heard the songs we sing before and maybe He would like us to sing Him one He hasn’t heard. After all, we may enjoy a song for 70 years or however long we’re on earth, but a lot of those songs He has heard for many years before that, and there might be a possibility that He wants to be praised with different words.
It’s not that I think He doesn’t enjoy the songs of old but think of it this way. Let’s say that every Sunday you got together with your wife and sang to her the same love songs. Chances are that after 70 years the effect would rub off on her. Not only would the songs loose power, but they would loose meaning as well. Now if you sang these songs every once in a while throughout your life, they would be mean so much more to her! Or even if you sang different songs every week. Perhaps when we are pursuing God we need to space out how much we sing to Him an old song and find time to sing to Him a new one. Bring back hymns every once in awhile to surprise Him, but not to bore Him. I feel that we need to pursue Him and who doesn’t get excited to hear a new song about themselves?
So for me, being disconnected from hymns isn’t a huge deal. Those were the romance songs of old and I think God still digs them. But I think not only would we loose very little, we may actually gain more in romancing God if we pursue new songs.