Since before I began leading worship (which is now closing in on 20 years) I have heard it all...
"But the doctrine is in the hymns!"
"But the power is in the new songs!"
"But the new stuff is so repetitive!"
"But the hymns are so boring!"
It goes on and on and on. And on. I suspect that I'll still hear much of these rumblings til I'm dead and gone and in heaven. Where the simple fact is... no one is going to care.
I'll say it again... When you are in heaven you will not care what type of music you sing.
Why? Because it will all be for HIS glory. Not yours. Ironically enough... just like it is here on earth. Some of you just haven't accepted that yet. Old songs, new songs... they are all meant for HIS Glory. Not yours. If your love for the Lord is genuine and deep it should override any preference you have, because WHENEVER you hear ANYONE sing praise to Jesus with ANY SONG, you can't but help singing out as well!
Okay. Now that I've put that out there... Get ready for your mind to be blown.
A new song IS a hymn. Boom. WHAAAA?!? Yup.
New Songs Are Hymns.
A new song is a hymn. "He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God." (Psalm 40:3) In fact, every song that is a song of faith sung in praise about God or to God is a hymn. That is the definition of a hymn. So they are ALL hymns. And as you've seen in the previous post on "new songs", every song should be a new song. Why? Because every time you sing any song you should sing it from a new fresh place because of your overflowing love for God. So it doesn't matter if it's Amazing Grace or How Great is Our God, which you've sung both 64+ times, both are hymns and both should be sung as new songs with a fresh love for Jesus.
It has been my prayer for years that people would get this. Unfortunately in our humanness we like our preferences. Unfortunately we have students in seminaries being taught by professors who aren't leading churches, knowing next to nothing about music, that are being told that hymns are good and the new stuff is just okay or even bad. Unfortunately we have people who don't like to be still and have a healthy fear of the Almighty God that don't get hymns. Unfortunately we have people who don't want intimacy and don't want to tap into their God-given, God-reflected emotions that don't get the new stuff.
We Need to Stop Dividing Our Worship.
Can't escape these facts: There are good hymns. There are bad hymns. There are good new songs. There are bad new songs. Hymns have doctrine. New songs have doctrine. Some hymns don't. Some new songs don't. Some hymns are emotional. Some new songs are emotional. Whether it is a Gregorian chant, an old traditional bar song hymn, an early 20th century hymn, a praise song from the 70's and 80's, a modern worship song, or even an ancient psalm from King Dave, they are ALL songs of praise. Understand this.
We need to stop dividing our worship. Yes, worship leaders... if you are in a church with a population that enjoys hymns and WORSHIPS with hymns (not just sings through them) then use them! Use what they engage with! For those of you hymn lovers who can't stand the newer music, get over it. They are here to stay. And they have doctrine and power in them too. Whichever camp you are in, I urge you to be in God's camp. And He is far more concerned about what is in YOUR HEART and coming from it than the period or genre of the song. He is also far more concerned about the church being UNIFIED than your personal preferences. Honor each other. Honor Jesus' prayer of unity in the garden.
Diversify Styles as Needed.
Know what your church worships well with and use it. We contemporize "hymns". We also simplify "new songs" with piano or guitar. We have "new songs" which feel like "hymns". We now have "hymns" that feel more like "new songs". When you add new repertoire, consider adding an older hymn!
Mix up your worship repertoire. Use what works for the church, not what works for yourself. Then engage and lead well.
worship Him 24/7...