I remember when the 80’s choruses swept the church. I became a Christian as a Jr. High student and remembered attending my new “evangelical” church home and being swept away by the church orchestra blasting away on songs like “Majesty”, “As the Deer”, “He Is Exalted”, “How Majestic is Your Name”, and any other song that was either released by Integrity Music or in the “Song’s for Praise and Worship” collection by Word Publishing Company. In my mind a revolution was being born. The congregation began clapping wildly for rousing choir anthems and hymns became nothing more than a concession to keep too many older folks from leaving the church.
Times seem to be a changin’. How interesting it is that you can go to most any contemporary Christian concert and the emotionally tender or climactic inspirational moment is when that chorus segues right into a refrain from some classic hymn (i.e. Chris Tomlin’s now famous “How Great is Our God” into “How Great Thou Art”). On top of this, the emerging church is blasting the trumpets calling the church to re-embrace the ancient and experiential traditions of the historic church. On top of this, Passion, Indelible Grace, Red Mountain Music, and numerous other artists are trying to popularize hymns for new generations. Before any of you “traditional types” get too excited, it’s worth knowing that these hymns aren’t packaged in nice four-part chorales for organ and SATB choir. As it’s been described to me in the past, the post-modern today is wearing his grandpa’s sweater with an ipod on his belt.
My point of this post is first, to simply highlight an interesting cultural shift and second, to celebrate the change. I am all for practicing diversity in church music and think it is often ridiculous to declare some “new and exciting” revolution in church music. The reality is that there is exciting stuff happening in every style and community and trends are almost impossible to nail down in the “information super highway” world in which we live. To be completely honest, right now my perfect evening of worship would be a cup of coffee, my guitar, and a bunch of old hymn lead sheets in D, E, G, A, or C. My only regret is that my “contemporary upbringing” has left me quite illiterate when it comes to the broad range of hymn melodies and texts. As for a practical spin on this post, I am not sure there is one. All I can say is that I am glad that what I most enjoy musically (and lyrically), just so happens to also be a culturally engaging medium within the church.