Music and Worship

The London Times of February 10, 2007 published an article entitled:

Churches must ask why the English Hymnal is out of tune

The article states in part: “In December, the tercentenary of Charles Wesley’s birth will be marked by a series of events around the world. His chief legacy is as arguably the greatest hymn writer in the English language. Anyone who has heard Christmas carols sung in the high street is likely to recognize Hark! The Herald Angels Sing and Love Divine, All Loves Excelling. In the 18th century the hymn was an effective means to engage popular culture. Hymns enabled writers to express their religious convictions in ways that could be readily owned by the poor. When a cantor gave out words line by line, even the illiterate could join in. The ways hymn writers interpreted biblical stories through personal religious experience made the hymn — hard as this may be to grasp now — a highly subversive cultural innovation. By the second half of the 20th century, British Christians were waking up to the possibility that hymns had become alien to those they were trying to attract to services. Whatever the merits of the hymn had been, plugging the Church into popular culture was no longer one of them and hymns were more likely to estrange than engage visitors.

Many attempts have followed to reinvigorate traditions of singing in worship. Electric bands are replacing pipe organs; worship songs and choruses are replacing 18th and 19th-century hymns; and computerised projection screens are beginning to replace hymn books. A number of very fine songs and hymns have been added by contemporary writers to the diet of English-speaking churches. Yet the question grows daily more pressing: is the era of the congregational singing of hymns — and songs — ending as a fruitful part of Christian life and worship? If the answer to that question is “yes”, it challenges most acutely those churches that rely more heavily on hymns as a vehicle for theological teaching than on liturgy. And even if the answer is “no”, Charles Wesley’s tercentenary ought to occasion some soul searching within the churches about the continuing role of a medium of which he was an undisputed master.”

What are your thoughts about music in the worship life of your church? What changes would you like to see and why?

February, 28, 2007


Pianoman said...

I love being in churches that have an audio visual set up. I think you can pay more attention to the words of a hymn when they are displayed on a big screen. I also think it appeals to the youth to see modern technologies being employed in churches - after all this is the internet and computer age and our future is with the young people.

I would like to see more of the music in church orientated towards the younger people - maybe at least one of the hymns should be chosen each week by one of the Sunday School classes - that would give them more 'buy in' to what is going on in the service.

Robo said...

i agree i have to go to church and its dull just adults doing retro stuff there's some good christen rock stuff that i like

u like billy joel right?


Pianoman said...


He's good! Check out