A very small amount about Contemporary Christian worship music and old hymns

I could probably write a master’s thesis’s worth on my thoughts about worship music.  How my background influenced me, how musical culture is important, what I think about “contemporary” worship music, the difference between descriptive worship and direct worship, musical innovation, skill levels, instrumentation…maybe it would more than a thesis’s worth.  Maybe some day I will write it.

Today, though, I have one thought to express on the matter.  I will try to keep it short.

I love to worship.  I love how God led me to a place, both a literal place and a place in my heart, where I learned freedom in worship.  I’m pretty well reserved in my behavior, except maybe around my very good friends.  God leading me to this place of freedom is evidence of his transforming goodness.

As I was worshiping this past weekend – in the congregation instead of the band, for a nice change – I felt a gaping need for “contemporary” worship music that is packed with truth after truth about God…instead of singing the same simple (but beautiful) truths over and over again.  God has infinite facets and intricacies and praise-worthy traits.  Can we bring them up in worship and specifically praise him for them?

The old hymn-writers were better at this and I love them for it.

O Word of God incarnate; O Wisdom from on high,
O Truth unchanged, unchanging, O Light of our dark sky
We praise you for the radiance That from the hallowed page,
A lantern to our footsteps, Shines on from age to age

(William Walsham How, 1867)

They wrote so beautifully you sometimes don’t even need music (and this from someone who can’t survive 15 minutes in the car without music).

See, from His head, His hands, His feet,
Sorrow and love flow mingled down;
Did ever such love and sorrow meet,
Or thorns compose so rich a crown?

Were the whole realm of nature mine
That were a present far too small;
Love so amazing, so divine,
Demands my soul, my life, my all.

(Isaac Watts, 1707)

Yes.  Let’s have some more of that.  Please don’t think I’m knocking “contemporary” Christian music.  It’s beautiful and worshipful and I love to worship to it myself.  It’s also the music-culture language of a generation, which is an important factor in leading people into genuine worship.  It’s precisely because of that, that I wish for more (because there are some) new songs packed with lovely, deep orthodox truths.


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