Worship Matters for June 2021
Greetings PTC! The previous “Worship Matters” article for May was a look at the significance of the words and lyrics to praise and worship songs. Though there is much more to discuss on that topic, this week I will attempt to answer probably the most common question I have heard in the last seven years of being a member of this church.
“Why don’t we sing more hymns?”
Now, this is another topic that probably requires far more than one person’s thoughts on an 8x11 page, but it may be a start.
One answer to this query is simply that we do sing a fair number of hymns at PTC. In fact, among all of the churches I have attended throughout Alberta and British Columbia, PTC sings the most hymns. However, over the years I am sure that less hymns are being sung, and sometimes not as many as people would like.
There are several reasons for this. Here are a few that I have been pondering through my seasons of worship leading.
- Younger generations (Gen X and younger) have a wider range for what a hymn is, and often include a modern hymn that does not always resonate as being a “real hymn” with older generations. Next month I hope to dive in to what a hymn is, by definition, and look more in depth at the history of hymn singing in the Church.
- The musical style or key of hymns can be difficult to fit into a set of songs. Worship leaders may struggle to find the right place for them, so when time is short, a hymn may be the song dropped off the list. A great song that just does not flow with the others in the set takes much practice and experience to include.
- We want to make room for new songs that are being written for the Church today. The songs that God lays on the heart and pen of songwriters are often for that particular generation and for that time in history. We see this throughout the Bible, and it is still proving to be true in 2021.
- Very often in the Psalms and other passages we are admonished to “sing a new song to the Lord” (Psalm 96:1). A quick search brought up 18 Bible references to singing a new song. Older songs bring up strong feelings, emotions and a sense of belonging and nostalgia. These feelings are wonderful and may accompany true worship, but more often we are called to give a sacrifice of praise that encompasses stepping out of our comfort zone.
- Much of the reason for fewer hymns is simply about passing the baton to a new generation. Running a relay race can be challenging. It is difficult, but essential, to pass the baton to the next runner. In fact, it is impossible to win the race unless we do! We may worry that the next runner will not be able to run as well as we did, or that they may stumble, and all that hard running we did will be lost. However, we can trust that the God of every generation is working, teaching, and equipping, and He will see us all through to the finish line. Worship leaders have a responsibility to help make a way for coming generations, and also to be salt and light to the world at our door, and so try to select songs that reflect not only where we have come from, but where we are going as a local church.
I pray these thoughts can assist in the conversation.
– Pam Graham, Worship Coordinator
“Through Him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge His name.” Hebrews 13:15