Tuesday, July 15, 2008

It's Not About Singing and Music

Please visit RAsburry's Res and my comment there for his gentle correction of something I may have overstated in the third paragraph. Thanks, Pr. Asburry!

People say, "I don't like the old hymns you sing. I like newer hymns and contemporary songs that I used to sing, or that other church sing. That's why I don't want to go to your church."

What's the assumption such people make? We go to church to sing songs we like. When I sing, or hear, songs I like, I feel good and worshipful or something. When I go to church and there are hymns that I don't like or don't know, I feel bad, unmoved--as if I didn't participate fully.

There are many reasons to go to church, but going in order to sing songs is not one of them. Hearing the Word of God and receiving the Sacraments--those are reasons to go to church. To worship and pray--those are reasons for going to church. To sing along with a crowd, to be moved emotionally because my favorite church-style or pop-style songs were sung doesn't make the cut.

If you want moving, worshipful music, stay home and listen to some CDs. You can pick and chose and be the ultimate DJ and never suffer through any song you don't care for.

If you want to sing with a bunch of people, join a community choir. They will sound better than nearly any congregation out there. The only problem with this is you still don't get to pick the music.


  1. Rev. Eric J Brown said...

    Oh, do you pick out old, "lousy" hymns too?

    I think a lot of it stems from the fact that we are in an ad-driven consumerist society. Everything should be your way, right way. We're used to be served, to having things done at our beck and call - and if not - off we go.

  2. Anastasia Theodoridis said...

    Thanks for this. I've linked to it on my blog, with commentary.

  3. -C said...

    It's not about getting to sing the songs you like at church - it's about learning to love the church's song.

  4. William Weedon said...

    Schalk's wisdom: People may not know what they like, but they like what they know.

    Hence our great task: to teach them to know (and so like) the great chorales.

  5. Randy Asburry said...

    Good point, Pr. Hall. However, I must quibble with just a minor point you make. Check out my post at: http://rasburrysres.blogspot.com/2008/07/singing-together.html

  6. Orianna Laun said...

    I agree with -c and Pastor Weedon. We need to teach the people to love the rich musical heritage we have, as well as help them learn the newer hymns written in these later years. I mean hymns by Vajda, Starke, Franzmann, et al which continue in the heritage of hymnody passed down from the past.
    There are some fabulous hymns as yet untapped by many congregations because they want to sing whatever they like, know, or think is popular. The church where we worship is the same. First service is "traditional" where we wear out the oldest of hymns but never tap into the rest of Lutheran Service Book. The second service is "contemporary" where our music director uses extensively the book "The Best of the Best" which always leaves me to ask, "If this is the best, what's the worst?!"
    It's not hard to teach new hymns and encourage singing with life--it merely takes time.