Sunday, July 03, 2011

Hymns vs. Choruses/CCM

Music in the context of the church has been debated for centuries.  Music has changed and it has its own history that would benefit most of those doing any arguing.  But what I want to write about here is using music and/or singing in the context of a church gathering, whether a Sunday meeting or a small group during the week.

I've been in churches that sung mainly hymns from a hymnal to a piano, and then in smaller settings in homes during the week, the piano might have been absent and the hymns sung a Capella. I've also been in churches where modern choruses were sung with worship bands up front.  Also I've experiences a few churches that had a mix of both.  In the churches where there was a mix, some of the people had opposite reactions.  Once my pastor told me that occasionally he was hit up by people after the service, in succession, that the church was boring and stuffy because of all the hymns, then alternatively that the church had jumped right into rock 'n' roll and was loud and disrespectful.

But as far as my personal tastes go, I prefer hymns to modern choruses or praise and worship music.  It's not because hymns are better, and it's not because hymns are better because they're older.  There have been multitudes of hymns that were bad, and time and discretion have weeded them out from the pool.  There are bad choruses today that will be weeded out in due time, leaving the best to last for several more generations.  The reason I like hymns is because of their "singability."

For the most part, hymns are easier to sing precisely because they were designed to be sung by a group of people.  The melody is there and a simple instrument might be the perfect accompaniment.  People who are more talented at singing can sing harmony.  On the other hand, many of the newer choruses were designed to be performed in a recording studio by recording artists with many instruments and special electronic effects, then put out as professionally recorded CD's, etc.  The songs aren't as much sung as they are vocalized.  Then these pieces are adapted to be used in church settings.  I find these types of songs much more difficult to sing in groups, and the result is often less than desirable.  There are some modern choruses that are perfectly singable in groups, and I like them as well.  All this is not to say that hymns are good and choruses bad, it's just to say that I prefer music that is singable by a group to music that is not.


  1. As a former church music leader my opinion is split. I loved singing the hymns. But now I attend a church that uses more praise songs than hymms. Both are used though.

    The tunes are written with choral participation in mind. However, looking at the broad spectrum of music historically, the act of singing was begun without written page. Only in the last few hundred years was music penned. So with the new (Praise-Worship) choruses it seems we have come full circle, only with tech-attachments. When the Psalmists wrote in Ps. 96:1-2;98;105:2 and many others I don't see a mention of harmony or melody. Just a command to sing praise to the Lord and using instruments as well, Ps. 150.

    I hope the use of music in our worship services will one day be used as an ACT of worship rather than an IDOL of worship.

  2. Personal taste and preference should have NOTHING to do with our involvements in singing to the Lord. This is what should be important because it is the fulfillment of what it means to be "filled with the Spirit".
    Eph. 5
    ...but be filled with the Spirit, addressing (speaking to) one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.

    This clearly spells out that what we sing and why we sing is COMPLETELY driven by the people present "one another". Believers do not need a "worship leader". They have an indwelling worship leader that will lead them in personal expression from their hearts, in mutual, two-way communication both what we sing and why we want to sing it. This all flows from Mon - Sat worship lives with God everywhere we are between Sundays. If we mostly ignore God in this time period, we will need a worship leader to get us going. What a bogus way to live out God's design for us.

    What do you think about singing in this dynamic? Do you have confidence the Holy Spirit's filling would flow through you and the other saints? Do you think you could "submit" to each other or that you would want to make your personal tastes dominate others?