Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Will "we" have that?

So today at lunch time I went down to the Guild Hall at Central UMC and had dinner with those invited to the "Golden Years Celebration" (read that as those 65+). It was a good time of food and distracting myself by texting the youth that were helping by serving the tables.

At the end of the meal they did a variation on a Hymn Sing. It was a variation because it really wasn't an open hymn sing where those gathered choose the music but rather was already planned out. Not surprisingly though many of the hymns included in the sing probably would have been chosen by those gathered. As I sat there singing with them and joining the tunes that I grew up hearing my mother play on the piano as she practiced for Sunday worship, I started to ask myself the following questions:

"What will be my generations "hymn sing"? Will there even be such a thing for us or even those a generation before me?"

Now I realize that there is a chance that some "praise" hymns could take the place of those old-time hymns, but I wonder about the staying power since none of the instruments used for "praise" hymns (outside of the piano) seem to have the same staying power as "the organ." Then I started wondering if we have lost our connection between music and spirituality. Personally, I don't think that connection is lost. There are so many songs I have heard by what some would call "secular" artists that explore the human condition and navigate the condition through relationship to God in some way. These songs feed my soul, but you know what they aren't part of "worship" within the church building and to be honest they weren't written to be sung by "all."

Have we as a society moved so far away from the corporate task of music in worship that all we have is the "old" hymns or hymns created within the "old" medium to help us join together in song? Obviously this isn't fully the case as many churches have other mediums than the organ and piano upon which they corporately join in song, but even when that occurs I can't help but have a feeling of passive reception.

I don't know if I will ever figure it out. This question is just one of the many questions I have been having about worship lately. As I myself seek to enter into authentic worship that comes from celebrating the presence of God in my life and the community around me, I can't help but wonder about what worship will be when I am in those "Golden Years." Will my authentic response to God within the medium of Worship evolve and change as my life changes? I have to believe it will. When I was 17, I had a better chance of connecting with God by interacting with those who had music that connected with the my teenage angst, but now I connect more with the mellow reflective music (granted I still love punk but only in smaller doses)?

Which leaves me with the following question to ponder: When we stick in one pattern of worship to we cease to authentically engage with the presence of God within the work of worship?


  1. One of my pet peeves is when people assume that as a "young person," I most likely prefer praise and worship music to hymns. So wrong. I'm still a hymn & organ kind of girl. The praise songs we use seem redundant and kinda blah lyrically. I think you're absolutely right-- a lot of songs don't seem to be written to be sung corporately.

    Oh, and P.S. Another pet peeve is that at 30, I'm still considered a "young person" and lumped in with youth ministry programs because I happen to belong to a denomination made up mostly of old people.

    And P.P.S. I'm glad you're smart, Justin... you know... for a "young person."

  2. Sara-

    The chord seems to have been hit with you. I agree that I also am a hymn and organ person, but I know I have met many that aren't. Of course that doesn't mean they are "praise" people either, just that this is the only music that uses a medium that touches their soul (notice not words, but the instrumentation).

    P.S. How about this young clergy seems to be expanding in designation all the way up to 40 years old. It does make things difficult when talking to others because they think "young adult" = "youth"

    P.P.S. I thank you for the complement know....a "young person"

  3. I think I was the youth you were texting. nice actually correct word of youth since I am in highschool :p

    Hymns are not easy to sing, when the congregation doesn't understand what four part harmony means.

    so songs written for praise of one voice singing, the same words over and over again are indeed more powerful because my friends and I can sing them? but that means they're only powerful to us...

    ugh...I must be bored reading blogs from months ago.
    stupid christmas break.