The following is a reflection of a conversation between my brother and I. Both of us are passionate about music, and about worship, and we regularly struggle with the tendency of our church to reluctantly sing modern contemporary worship songs, and regularly resort to hymns of younger times (of which we both find hard to actually worship to). Through the course of the conversation, we came to realise that we need to break the mindset of ‘modern’ and hymn, and instead, see it as ‘worship’.
Worked it Out
I’ve worked out something. The hymn today was interesting. The congregation were singing their heart out in the hymn. The problem we have to fight is that they are as passionate about hymns as we are about modern songs. If only we could meet face to face and see it ALL as worship. Then everyone would be as passionate about everything.
Is it about worship or the type of song? Do people worship to hymns, or just enjoy the hymn because its familiar and you can belt it out in unison? It’s almost like cars. People love old cars. People love new cars. They do the same job for those people but who love new cars often don’t like old cars.
People are passionate about singing hymns. We can only assume that it’s to God, just as I sing modern songs to God and enjoy it. But worship is about God, not necessarily about our preference; hence we should just be passionate about worship and be united as a whole. Hymns are their preference; Yes it shouldn’t matter, but obviously it does.
But we have to do the same? We have to accept hymns as worship too. Stabbing truth.
Maybe the great divide between perceptions of worship needs to be us that stands up first as the young generation and make the first step between uniting that passion. Often you see change when you change first. People will admire, respect, and will more likely listen, if we make the first step to joining the two trains of thought.
This is hard to do though. Especially when hymns are so hard to worship to… (Personally)
But, if an old car rolled into your workshop, you’d still work on it even though you don’t like old cars – and prefer to work on new cars. So what if a hymn rolls into church, should we not sing it to God, because maybe God will appreciate its message, regardless of our preference for it?
Question: why is it so hard?
Maybe it’s hard because its of a tradition or style which we did not grow up with.
Maybe it’s hard because our eyes have been opened to greater things.
And maybe it’s hard because those that grew up with them hold onto them with such aura that they cannot open their eyes to greater things.
And maybe it’s hard because Satan will use our human preference to sabotage our spiritual worship.
Hymns can be hard because of the language. Most of them just don’t make sense to the modern person and so they might not sing them because they don’t mean it. Some of the hymns are ok because we can understand them. Whilst we might not like the music side of them, at least we can understand it.
So lyrics have meaning, but it doesn’t mean we have to physically act them out. Our heart can do that when its in the right place. Regardless of the lyrics our heart can sing them even if we don’t ‘understand’ them; understand as in “I’m not doing this now so I can’t sing them whole heartedly”?
One of the challenges we set ourselves is to not see church as “us” and “them”; where “us” is anyone who thinks like us and has the same musical preference to us – and “them” is anyone who doesn’t think like us and has a different musical preference of hymns.
Worship is not about what we want. Worship is not about our preference. Worship is not about what we used to sing. Worship is not about what we are going to sing next. Worship is not about what we could sing or what we should sing. Worship is not about hymns. Worship is not about songs.
Worship is about God. Worship is about what God wants. Worship is a choice we make. Worship is a choice we make to glorify God with our thanks and praise. Worship is a choice we make to lift Him up to the forefront of our lives.
Worship is all about God in our lives.
Worship is not about us in God’s life.
Worship therefore is above and beyond the type of song we sing. Songs are just the easiest medium to use in order to join corporately with others in Worship. And when we are joined, there is no greater thing that two or three gathered believers all worshipping God together.
Worship is above and beyond hymns. Hymns fall in insignificance when compared to worship.
Worship is above and beyond modern songs. Modern songs fail to compare to true worship.
Our thoughts should not be “Oh when are we going to sing a good ol’ hymn. I can’t worship with these new songs. Plus the drums are too loud”.
Our thoughts should not be “Oh why do we have to sing this ancient old hymn? I can’t worship with these old songs. Plus I hate organs”.
Our thoughts should be “Oh my. How awesome is God! How glorious is His name. I will praise Him forever, regardless of the song we sing”.
Our thoughts should be “Oh my. How marvelous that I can join in one accord with fellow believers and sing to our God. And that God himself adores our worship”.