Which Style is Right?

My wife and I grew up in church when the musical portion of our service was called “the song service.”  The phrase “praise and worship” became popular in the 1980’s.  I mostly recall hymns and the old-time choruses being sung in our church during the 60’s and 70’s.

Blessed Assurance was one of my favorite hymns and at summer youth camp we sang with gusto “Everyday with Jesus” over and over.  Perhaps you remember:

Everyday with Jesus is sweeter than the day before.
Everyday with Jesus, I love Him more and more.
Jesus saves and keeps me; and He’s the One I’m waiting for.
Everyday with Jesus is sweeter than the day before.

In those day, service flow was seldom emphasized and the compilation of pre-selected song lists was not stressed.  Service components were often unrelated, not like the fast-moving, deliberately planned services found in many churches today.  Of course, there were exceptions, as every generation hails people who initiate change before their time.  Spiritual mavericks have always bridged the generations.  Does the name Martin Luther sound familiar?

Someone made a pertinent observation regarding the lyrical contents of 18th to late 20th century church music versus the music of today.  Many beloved hymns and choruses of yesteryear talked about the Lord–His wonderful love, His nature and other attributes.  Today’s music tends to emphasize songs that sing to the Lord.  Think about it this way.  It’s the difference between talking about your wife, and talking to her.  You move from, “She’s wonderful,” to “Honey, I think you’re wonderful.”

Contemporary songs take on the fervor of intimate worship.  Neither is wrong–just different. Darlene Zschech, formerly from Hillsong in Sydney, Autralia, and many others have beautifully and humbly led a new generation of worshippers into the presence of God through deliberate first-person expressions of adoration.  Consider the song, “Shout to the Lord.”

I sing for joy at the works of Your hand.
Forever I’ll love You, forever I’ll stand.
Nothing compares to the promise I have in You.

Compare this to the hymn, “Such Love.”

That God should love a sinner such as I;
Should yearn to change my sorrow into bliss,
Nor rest til He had planned to bring me nigh,
How wonderful is love like this.

Such love…

One talks to the Lord.  The other talks about the Lord.  Which is better, the hymn or the chorus?  Which one is right? Or wrong?  Neither!  They both have their place in the worship experience.  Why must we draw battle lines?



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