A thought struck me the other day: it seems that there are a lot more decent modern worship songs out there at the moment than there were around ten years ago. I’ve not always been a fan of modern Christian music, but it does seem that the game has been kicked up a notch of late. (Check out the We Are Worship website for some examples).
One reason I think different is because my opinion on worship songs has changed a bit: in the past I would have preferred hymns or songs which were theologically ‘rich’: “if it doesn’t go through a chapter of Grudem’s Systematic Theology I don’t want to know”! But one of the things I’ve realised over the past couple of years is that it’s OK for songs to be simple sometimes. If a congregation sung three or four EMU or Sovereign Grace style songs in a row, it would be exhausting!
This may be a tad controversial at my theological college (ahem), but I believe sometimes what is needed is something more emotionally-driven, something which allows an individual to express an honest feeling to God, as well as times to declare truths about God to each other. In short, I think I’d say the important thing is balance here – trying to sing songs which are theologically rich as well as lighter songs which allow people to express themselves.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not arguing that it’s OK to sing dodgy theology! There are songs like that and it’s best to avoid them. But sometimes something which is theologically true but simple is appropriate.
One modern trend which I think blends these two elements (the intellectual and emotional, if you will) together well is updating hymns to have a bridge chorus. Some examples might be:
- In Christ Alone (Passion 2013 version). I like the bridge they’ve added here (although they do miss a verse out, which I would include if doing this song in church).
- Crown Him (Majesty) – I love the original hymn, and I think the bridge does work – although I might cut the length down a bit if doing it in church.
- Jesus Paid it All – an old, forgotten hymn with an additional bridge – it suddenly has a whole new lease of life. We’ve done it a few times at college / church and I love it.
These songs all declare great theological truths about God, but also allow people to express something emotional on a more personal level. I think it’s good to have those two components in the music in a church service, bring truth down to individual / corporate level.
So it seems to me that this is a good time for Christian worship songs 🙂