Musical History

Note: The blogosphere gets kind of quiet on weekends, so I've started "Speak up Weekends." If you aren't posting on your own blog, and can't find much to read on the others you frequent, stop by here. You're invited to drop by over the course of the weekend to peruse the topic of the week, ponder your thoughts on the subject and pontificate in a reply if you're so inclined.

While I've wandered the WorldWideWeb this week, I've come across a couple of blogs that used the words from old hymns to reinforce their message. I really liked being reminded of some of those classics that I haven't heard in years.

I count myself as very fortunate to have been raised as probably the last generation who had Sunday services filled with more hymns than "choruses" (remember when that was the term for "praise songs?"). As I entered junior high and high school, our youth groups were singing "Jesus Music," but in church that was largely reserved for Sunday evening services and special events.

The transition from mostly hymns to mostly not has been slow and subtle. And as a member of a generation whose music of choice runs more to Rock than Rachmaninov, I haven't objected to the switch.

On occasion though, I am reminded of the amazing depth of some of those ancient pieces and miss the poetry, imagery and adoration that is lacking when I join the congregation in singing "I'm no hero, no superman, I'm just a man in your eyes." (Ok, no offense to the composer of that little ditty or any worship leader who puts it in the lineup, but there are just so many things about that one line that strike me wrong).

Regardless of what is on the playlist at my church on a Sunday morning, I am glad to have the foundation of countless songs that reside deep in my soul and surface when I'm most in need of expressing a thought or feeling that I can't put into words of my own. So many times as God is communicating a truth to me through His word I find there's already a song in my heart that reinforces it. I love reading (singing) through the Psalms and discovering that I know more scripture than I even realize because I learned so much of it through song.

So all of this got me thinking: how do I give that to my own children? The church is going to keep moving down the contemporary path, and there's some value to that. But there is so much history and faith and passion and (dare I say it?) theology in that thick, dusty book that has been removed from the back of most church pews. (Do most churches even still have pews?!) I don't want to lose all of that in a sort of musical revisionist history.

This is where you come in. Do you have an affection for hymns at all? How are you introducing your own children to the wealth that exists in them? Or do you see them fading away into the memories of an ancient generation like so many of our family stories and thus our history and heritage? Any suggestions? I'll be thinking about it too, and will add what I come up with to the comments.

PS--I wanted to add a link to a blog post that I think has one of the best descriptions of the generational differences in worship. He's specifically talking about the distinctions between "Gen-X" and the "Millenials." It might make you see your own church's corporate worship time differently. Where do you see yourself?


Lylah said...

just a big Hello and thanks for your comment on the lylah blog...

as a pw, that's something i've been pondering writing about for a few years...the issues of expectations on a pw and how we walk in who He says we are and the role defined by our husbands...rather - than what others say. loved your comment! blessings...lylah

Truth4thejourney said...

I, too love the hyms. Our church mostly sings the new stuff, but on occastion they've "updated" an old hym with a new rhythm and we've sung it.

I'd love to pass this onto my children. Good point!

I know there is a book out there that talks about some of the classics and gives the history behind the writing of that hym. fascinating stuff. I'll have to look for it and buty it. It would make a great family bible study. We would, of course, follow it up with singing the hym!

elaine @ peace for the journey said...

I love hymns; thus my reason for attending the traditional service at our church more than the contemporary. I keep a blend of both kinds of music in my van. I love some of the hymns on piano (such as Chris Rice's hymns CD or Jim Brickman's "Grace" CD). My older kids grew up with hymns, and I try to give them to my younger ones by playing them in the car and taking them to traditional worship.

I love all kinds of worship, but on Sunday morning, I want to be surrounded by "church"...pews, hymnbooks, the robed choir, etc. I'm a high church girl; there's something of reverance that remains with tradition. However, I'll take Jesus anyway I can get him.

I also have John Morgan's "Then Sings my Soul" books that contain the stories behind some of our most treasured hymns.

Good thoughts on this day of rest.


RefreshMom said...

Good thoughts everyone! Thanks for sharing.

A couple things I thought of:
Once school starts (Bug starts Kindergarten this year), I might make it a point to have cd's of Hymns playing in the morning as we get ready for school.

Boo shows real interest in music; I've thought that when the time comes to start him with piano or guitar lessons, I might make it a point to find someone who teaches music by using hymns. A pastors wife at a previous church did that; I think that's a great way to pass some of it on to another generation.

Our church is having a "Hymn Sing" this evening; usually I wouldn't go, but I think I'm going to take the boys tonight. It might not be something we'll do every quarter when we have one, but I think it would be good to take them occasionally.

hmmm....what else?

Jami @ livelaughlove5 said...

Hi there! I wanted to thank you for your comments on my blog!! What great ideas! I have loved all the wisdom I've gleaned. Thanks!!

Genny said...

I do love hymns. But I love the contemporary worship too. I think a combination of both is great.

Hope you had a wonderful weekend!

Amy Jane (Untangling Tales) said...

(Found you from a comment at "So you want to be Published?")

Our church does a remarkably even mix of hymns and... non-hymns.

Well, maybe more hymns than non-.

I'm always troubled by people who put the two styles in opposition. Different music is always going to appeal to different people, but the cannon closed long before any of our hymns were written so we souldn't be treating them as sacred.

And for those on the other end-- still living the new-is-better lie, I will quote a "grandma" of mine who once pointed out, "One day, you will be old. Then it will be hard for you to change.

Very few people stay "current" forever, but I think that's okay-- that it's part of the reason for generations.

The Youth Pastor's Fam said...

i am a generation xer. and i am sure that plays into my own feelings about hymns- which i partly grew up with. the ones that i know well- i love- and have deep meaning as they can bring me before Jesus in worship. i have struggled being able to worship with most other hymns because i am so busy trying to follow notes and the changing music that i can't even begin to comprehend the meaning of the words i am singing. like elaine wrote though, i love the reverence piece to church- and often wished that so many of the "young" churches didn't miss out on that. all that to say, i do want my little ones to know their church tradition (as i want them to be free in whatever form of worship they use!)- its good to know where one comes from so to speak- and the cd idea is great!

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