Church, Worship

Singing Theology

In November, I will be teaching a series called “Singing Theology.” We will be talking quite a bit about music and worship. Over the years, my thinking on this issue has swung back and forth a bit.

On Sunday, our congregation sang people’s favorite hymns. Generally, we worship using music from many different ages. We cherish the great hymns of the faith, but we also include music from our own era as well. There is both depth and breadth to being familiar with all of them.

What was curious to me was the responses. For some people my age and younger, the older hymns must be boring by default. They have no appreciation for the beauty of their melodic lines and the intricacies of their lyrical composition. For others, who are generally much older than me, hymns are “how you worship” and the idea of including anything else is just unthinkable. They might even dismiss all modern music as “choruses” – a word they utter as if having to eat overcooked asparagus.

The message of the Gospel takes many forms, and will take many more before Jesus returns. Some are majestic, others are earthy. But all are glorious when the Gospel is at their core. In fifty years, the people who find hymns “boring” now will be complaining about the modern music of that era. It is a never-ending cycle.

“The Doxology” and “Just As I Am” were once controversial. There were churches who refused to allow the piano as part of their worship, and others who would not accept any song not from the Psalms. We just go around and around on this issue.

What matters?

1. That God is glorified through Christ.
2. That we worship in spirit and in truth.
3. That our worship is theologically sound.

Everything else is flexible.


1 thought on “Singing Theology”

  1. Good post.

    Personally, I like a mix of all types of music in worship. The older hymns (especially in their more original forms) are often strong theological statements and some are quieter and moving. Modern songs tend to be good for more uplifting worship but sometimes miss expressing any really deep thoughts or other emotions than joy and wonder.

    Change worship to live/lives and your final 3 “rules” are still true!

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