I often complain about the music in my church. Let me explain why.
The church I attend has an ageing congregation. It also has a choir made up of 15 or so people. It is a very serious choir. They take all their music seriously, sing it perfectly, and have robes and everything. Unfortunately most of the hymns that they sing were written in the 18th or 19th century. Very occasionally they sing something modern, by which they mean written after 1900.
Now, there are some very powerful hymns written in the last few centuries, the best of which are still sung in churches around the world today. Most of the hymns sung in our church, though, are at best obscure and at worst have no consistent tune, are completely unpredictable and are impossible to sing without being taught the tune and practicing extensively. I get the impression that the music is selected to allow the choir to show off their technical competency. In contrast, modern church music (And I include anything written since 1970 in this group!) is normally easy to learn, easy to remember, and (to me anyway) much more meaningful during worship.
But this brings me to an important question.
What is the purpose of church music?
It seems to be the case that old hymns are very strong in both teaching theology and teaching scripture. This is a very important role in the church. Modern music is often much simpler and often foccuses on one very small bible quote, or worse, foccusses on some abstract concept like “Take me to the other side” or “Na, na, na, na, na, na! Hey!” They rely on changing your feelings rather than teaching you something. This is not to say that modern church music cannot convey sound teachings. Many examples do. The ancient hymns teach you nothing if you are unable to sing them because the tune is so convoluted and not written down! Is teaching via hymns still necessary? This is questionable. In older times people may not have been literate and hymns and sermons might have been their only exposure to the bible. Nowadays people usually own their own bible and can read it for themselves. Whether they do or not is a different story.
So where does this leave us?
I do not think my church will change the style of music sung there while the congregation is so old. There is some progress though, because Karen and I now lead the music at a small monthly evening worship service there which is slowly growing in attendance. The vicar actually took a copy of one of the songs that we did and muttered something about making the choir do that one.
Thus end my rambling thoughts.