Saturday, July 15, 2006

Disconnect

Why has a pastor who is becoming increasingly fed up with hymns scheduled a hymn sing for tomorrow?

Update: By the way, it went pretty well. We celebrated both Christmas and Easter this morning, and we sang about being washed in blood. A mixed bag, that's for sure.

10 comments:

Songbird said...

To avoid preaching on a beheading?

Jeff said...

I vaguely remember a beheading scheduled for today. Is that Goliath who gets beheaded? We didn't use the lectionary, either.

Anonymous said...

Why are you increasingly fed up with hymns? I love hymns. I even buy CDs of hymns and listen to them at work. I prefer hymns in the Anglican and Lutheran traditions, rather than the Fanny Crosby "washed in the blood" style. I would not attend a church that did not sing hymns unless I was really desparate.

Jeff said...

As well-polished yet well-worn tunes and pieces of theology, I generally have no problem with hymns (save for the 'washed in blood' stuff). I've grown up with hymns and often find myself whistling them and occasionally quoting them in sermons. All in all, I do love hymns.

I suppose I'm becoming fed up less with hymns themselves and more with the idea that hymns are sole Spirit and Truth for a congregation's worship, and the implied vain hope that they will engage the first-timer, the 20-something, and the pick-up driver. I actually had a Dark Night of the Soul related to this a few weeks ago. Thankfully I've come out of it, but the issue still bothers me.

Anonymous said...

I am a 20-something though, and they do engage me. I don't know about pick-up drivers, we don't have many of those in this city. As for first-timers, assuming you mean unchurched people or "seekers", I don't think Sunday worship services ought to be aimed at them. On Sunday Christians meet together to worship God. Outreach is important, but it's a separate matter.

Last year I attended a service at a "Vineyard" church and the songs really made me cringe. So insipid, so shallow. There is meat in most hymns.

In addition to hymns (one of my all-time favourites is "Praise my soul the King of Heaven") and Anglican chant, I also like Taize songs.

What do you think would engage the 20-somethings (except me), pick-up drivers and first-timers?

Anonymous said...

What I really hate though is lyrics you have to read off an overhead projector/powerpoint slide. If I don't know the song, how the heck can I join in if you don't give me the MUSIC? Plus, with these projectors they only show a bit at a time so you don't know what's coming up next, whether you're going to have sing "I love you God" x 20, or what.

Actually though, my church uses hymn books but the ones in the pew have no music in them! I had never seen this before. However, I purchased my own copy of the hymnal with MUSIC in it (like the choir has) and I bring it along every Sunday.

Jeff said...

'What do you think would engage the 20-somethings (except me), pick-up drivers and first-timers?'

Well, that is the question. I agree that a lot of praise songs are vapid. If we could somehow retain the medium and attach deeper lyrics, that'd be a start. My experience has been that word-wise, Taize and praise music have a lot in common: repetition, simple phrases, etc.

All in all, I don't know what will help to engage those groups better. I just don't think that in the majority of cases, hymns do it. That's part of the reason I threw my hands up in the air the other week.

Anonymous said...

My sense is that most people in North American and European society (shall we say in Western society) are not really interested in God or Christianity. They have to realize that there's something missing from their lives, and then realize that it's God who's missing, and all that, before they even get to a point where they would have an opinion about hymns and whether they engage them or not. If God-talk turns you off, then you wouldn't give hymns a chance.

Anonymous said...

P.S. I wouldn't have given hymns a chance just 5 years ago. I turned to God and to Christianity during a time in my life when Really Bad Stuff were happening and I came to the conclusion that only God could help me. Through my investigations I learned that I was attracted to the more traditional manifestations of Christian faith, so I chose Anglicanism over the Evangelicalism I grew up with. ( would have chosen Catholicism if I could have done it without having to assent that I believe everything the Catholic Church teaches to be true.)

Jeff said...

I agree that certainly people as 'seekers' purposefully choose a church with 'traditional' worship. I do wonder about the percentage who choose that option, comparatively.

I also agree that 'seekers' probably aren't first and foremost concerned with questions of hymns as much as they would be about faith questions. However, I bet that there are a good chunk of 'seekers' who look at traditional worship in the typical corner church, hear these hymns played and sung less as songs of praise and more as dirges, and think, 'Yeah, on top of the crazy stuff you believe, there's no way I'm sitting through THAT.' Again, that's probably not the hymns themselves but the way they are treated however unintentionally.