The Case for Singing (OLD) Hymns

Discussion in 'General Baptist Discussions' started by 12strings, Jun 25, 2013.

  1. 12strings

    12strings
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    Having argued in a few threads why I do not believe scripture explicitly or implicitly forbids any particular musical style...I would like to make an argument for those of you who attend churches that sing predominantly songs that would be categorized as "contemporary."

    And, for the sake of simplicity, when I say "HYMN", I am refering to what most people consider hymns, that is OLD hymns. I personally hold to the longest-running definition of hymn, which is simply "Sung praise to God." So for me, all the songs, old and new, that we sing to God, are hymns. But for now, you know what I mean.


    1. SINGABILITY: Even for the young, hip, & cool Generation; if we devote the music of our worship services to always singing the latest songs, always singing new songs, then congregational singing will suffer. Many contemporary songs were written for a solo performer, and as such have melodies, vocal ranges, and rhythms that are difficult for untrained musicians to sing. It is true that a younger generation who has grown up listening to pop music will be used to more syncopation, and so of course each congregation can handle different levels of rhythms, But people of any age can sing "When I survey the Wondrous Cross."

    2. THEOLOGICAL DEPTH & BREADTH: Because we have inherited the best hymns from the last 500+ years, there are hymns that cover a wide range of topics, and multiple stanzas often tell a story that progresses from one place to another. Granted, this point is diminishing in importance as recently there have been some very good modern hymns written with deep theological content, as well as songs that cover a wider and wider range of topics; but there would still be, I believe a void of topics and depth if a church decided to never sing any old songs.

    3. HISTORICAL CONNECTEDNESS: It is a mistake for modern worship leaders to think that we have just now discovered how to really worship God. Singing songs from generations long past reminds us that we stand on the shoulders of pastors and lay-people who have, in each generation, sought to help their people worship God in a Biblical and relevant way...this is what motivated Watts, Wesley, Luther, and many others to write some of the great hymns we still sing, or at least SHOULD sing.

    4. MUSICAL RELEVANCE: Surprise! A younger generation needs the historical, theological value of hymns in an easily singable format...but also, they need something in corporate worship that they can't find outside of the church. If the church is a concert of great musicians performing impressive music, they can always find a better concert outside the church. If we get into an entertainment battle with MTV, MTV is going to win. (Even though MTV, "Music Television" no longer plays MUSIC VIDEOS...but don't get me started on that). The point is: Showing people that worship of God is different than a rock concert has value, and is relevant to what young people need. [aside]: This does not mean that the hymns must be accompanied in the same style or with the same instruments as they were 100 years ago, but care should be taken, as much as is possible, to leave the melody alone! This allows multiple generations to sing together...which leads us to #5:

    5. GOSPEL WITNESS: [WARNING: Soapbox coming...and you thought I was already on it...] In Christ, there, is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female. The Gospel removes those divisions between groups who were formerly at odds with one another...but for some reason, young Christians can't worship with their Grandparents. Old Hymns, sung to the original melodies, with perhaps updated accompaniment, can be sung by all generations together. This serves as a powerful witness to visitors, showing that very different people can worship together enthusiastically with one voice, in unity under the Gospel. Singing hymns also helps to bridge the sometimes glaring gap between old and young, and if you are a young song-leader, tells your older saints that you value them and their ways.

    Finally #1: anecdotally, for those of you that have attended some Christian concerts, or very contemporary worship services...have you not found it to be true that after a band sings a lot of their songs, they will sometimes sing/lead an old hymn, and it is at THOSE times that the people sing the loudest and with the most confidence? Even if it is a crowd of 20-somethings?

    Finally #2: This is not a case to sing old songs EXCLUSIVELY, but a case to include them if you don't currently, and perhaps to increase their regularity.

    God bless, congratulations upon reading my rant...you may now return to debating the merits and demerits of calvinism. (Sorry, I had to include it in this thread...unofficial BaptistBoard policy). :smilewinkgrin:
     
  2. JohnDeereFan

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    Based on the reactions in the "Sunday Attire" thread, you might want to duck.

    I agree with you. As I've stated in a couple of threads, I enjoy rock and roll and secular music, in general.

    But, as I pointed out in the "Sunday Attire" thread, as was roundly condemned for, church is different. The kind of music I like for recreation is not appropriate for worship.

    One of my favorite hymns is 'Tis Finished! The Messiah Dies!

    ’Tis finished! The Messiah dies,
    Cut off for sins, but not His own:
    Accomplished is the sacrifice,
    The great redeeming work is done.

    ’Tis finished! all the debt is paid;
    Justice divine is satisfied;
    The grand and full atonement made;
    God for a guilty world hath died.

    The veil is rent in Christ alone;
    The living way to Heaven is seen;
    The middle wall is broken down,
    And all mankind may enter in.

    The types and figures are fulfilled;
    Exacted is the legal pain;
    The precious promises are sealed;
    The spotless Lamb of God is slain.

    The reign of sin and death is o’er,
    And all may live from sin set free;
    Satan hath lost his mortal power;
    ’Tis swallowed up in victory.

    Saved from the legal curse I am,
    My Savior hangs on yonder tree:
    See there the meek, expiring Lamb!
    ’Tis finished! He expires for me.

    Accepted in the Well-beloved,
    And clothed in righteousness divine,
    I see the bar to heaven removed;
    And all Thy merits, Lord, are mine.

    Death, hell, and sin are now subdued;
    All grace is now to sinners given;
    And lo, I plead the atoning blood,
    And in Thy right I claim Thy Heaven!

    I just don't believe you're going to find theology like that in contemporary "worship" music.
     
  3. Deacon

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    12Strings convinced me that singing is good - as for singing the (old) hymns - some are good, some not so much.

    How old is old? there would be a mass exodus from our worship services if we brought back Gregorian chants.

    We mix um up where I worship.

    Rob
     
  4. 12strings

    12strings
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    You might be surprised at positive reaction...IF the chants were in English, and easy to sing, and reminded Christians that worship is much older than they are...we have begun singing "Let all mortal flesh keep Silence" which has lyrics from the 5th century, with music from a traditional french carol...It sounds like it's from outer space, but it's a song you won't hear at any rock concert, or even Gospel music concert.
     
  5. Luke2427

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    I concur with each point 100%.

    I would add one more:

    ATMOSPHERE...

    I like Nickleback, Creed, etc... But their music does not set a reverential, awe-filled, transcendent atmosphere in which the people of God ought to worship.

    Isaiah, Daniel, the Apostle John and others fell down as dead before God.

    There is too much casualness in Christian worship today.

    All Hail the Power of Jesus' Name and O Worship the King and such are greatly needed to remind us that God is not our cool next door neighbor who plays electric guitar backup for Creed.

    He is the Maker and Sustainer of the vast universe and deserves to be approached with the highest of reverence.
     
  6. Earth Wind and Fire

    Earth Wind and Fire
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  7. saturneptune

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    You have a good perspective on the subject. Personally, I like the Baptist Hymnal, which is a collection of songs written from 1750 into the 1900s. I like holding the book and reading the music. Personally, I do not care for contemporary music of repeated one liners on a giant screen in front of the sanctuary. I do not care for praise groups of three or four and bands. I like that piano and organ.

    Having said that, when the Gregorian chants were being replaced by these hymns, (if that is the succession), then hymns were contemporary music. No doubt the old crones that liked the Gregorian chants did not care for the hymns. The Psalms that were sung in Biblical times, were replaced by something else, and the cycle started. No telling how many times this has been repeated.

    The problem arises when people now associate the Baptist Hymnal in some sort of time warp fashion with the songs that the Christians in Acts sang. It is kind of like the King James radicals thinking Jesus said behold and verily, verily. Nothing could be further from the truth. We are trapped by our own culture, and that has nothing to do with worshipping the Lord.
     
  8. saturneptune

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  9. Luke2427

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  10. annsni

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    I disagree with the idea that all hymns are more singable than modern music. I have always found some hymns impossible to figure out (I don't read music) and I struggled with them - so much so that I never even thought of the words.

    I do love many hymns though and find some of the modern "hymns" to be wonderful too - especially the ones from the Getty's.
     
  11. Mexdeaf

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    Everyplace I go the atmosphere contains 78.08% nitrogen, 20.95% oxygen, 0.93% argon, 0.038% carbon dioxide, and traces of hydrogen, helium, and other "noble" gases (by volume), but generally a variable amount of water vapor is also present, on average about 1%.

    No matter what kind of music is playing.
     
  12. quantumfaith

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    Oh Rob, I love Gregorian Chant. And they are so "singable". :)

    But I really do enjoy medieval music, particularly of the celtic variety.
     
  13. quantumfaith

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    Perhaps, we should all share some of our favorite "old hymn" mis-pronunciations. Some are rather humorous.

    Nevermind, I do not want to derail something serious, offered by 12 strings.
     
  14. thisnumbersdisconnected

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    If one is happy with the songs offered for worship at his/her church, why try to convince those who attend other churches to seek that style of music? Personally, I love the mix of "hymns" and contemporary worship at my church. Just last Sunday, we sang a traditional arrangement (with orchestra) of "A Mighty Fortress is Our God" followed by "Praise to the Lord", and then the very contemporary "Everlasting God" and later in the service sang Chris Tomlin's hymn-and-contemporary mix as presented in "Amazing Grace/My Chains are Gone." All those songs moved just about everyone in the congregation. Why does anyone else care how we worship? That has always puzzled me. Be happy in how you worship, and please, don't be concerned about how we do. No offense, and I know the OP is not "dictating," but really, let it be. There's too much tendency to strife amongst members as it is. God bless.
     
  15. Mexdeaf

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    :thumbsup: I trust that applies to how we dress and what Bible versions we use, also.
     
  16. thisnumbersdisconnected

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    Absolutely! :smilewinkgrin:

    I'm a counselor. I dress casually, because suits and ties intimidate my clients. Most of 'em wear jeans and shirts, and so do I, thought my shirts are "nice" shirts, Izod with pockets at the least. As to music, I listen to K-LOVE in my office. I turn it off for appointments, but I've actually had clients say "Oh, no, I like that station. Leave it on, just turn it down, please." I work in a secular facility, by the way.

    It is good for our counseling sessions, why shouldn't it be good for our worship? I like the hymns too, but a variety is nice, and refusing to listen to contemporary music because one doesn't believe it "edifies" doesn't mean they are correct.
     
  17. jbh28

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    I like your list. I am actually putting together my personal statement on church music. I love the old hymns. Not because they are the old hymns, but because I believe we should have music like you have written above, and the old hymns fit that. There are some new songs that fit that as well.
     
  18. Earth Wind and Fire

    Earth Wind and Fire
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    Yes.... that is what most churches are void of. Same old same old!
     
  19. Earth Wind and Fire

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    You mean like this..... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k3MzZgPBL3Q
     
  20. Earth Wind and Fire

    Earth Wind and Fire
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    LOL..... Or if we even bother to go.
     

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