“Sing to the Lord a new song and his praise in the congregation of the saints” (Psalm 149:1) NKJV
“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs ,singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord” (Colossians 3:16) NKJV
A few years ago I was going regularly, with an older brother, to minister music to a group of men at a federal prison.
I would accompany him with my guitar as he played some of the old gospel songs on his accordion. Afterwards, I often shared a song I had written along with the story behind it. In addition, I occasionally introduced a few contemporary worship songs that we use in our church. I thought that when these men got released, it would be good for them to be familiar with some of the newer songs that are being sung in the churches.
Well I ran into a snag with my older brother. He said that in his church, a lot of the seniors were leaving because of this new music. They also felt that the prisoners really preferred the old songs, which opinion I couldn’t understand because of the men’s positive response to my songs.
There are many places in scripture, encouraging us to sing new songs to the Lord. After all, if we are made in the image of God, would it not be safe to assume that He would enjoy hearing something new from time to time; just like us. However, there is great depth of meaning in the hymns of old and we are encouraged by the apostle Paul as shown in the scriptures above, to sing these along with other types of songs to the Lord.
Years ago one of my sons, through the stress of work and family, began having panic attacks. His doctor recommended time off work and rest. Even with counseling, he continued to struggle.
One night he asked if he could come and spend a weekend with my wife and I to talk, pray and just listen to some Godly music.
When it came to the choice of music he said that he wanted to listen to some old hymns. We had a wide selection of Christian music both contemporary and traditional, and we were surprised that he would choose the golden oldies. This choice was surprising because he had in his teens, been the drummer in a Christian rock band.
To this day our son testifies to the healing southing effects of the old hymns and their message to his spirit.
I considered this whole issue of new and old songs in the Church. I believe the Lord was revealing to me that there is a lack of understanding and honour between the generations, when it comes to the use of music in congregational worship.
So herein lays the dilemma! Do we use only contemporary music in Church worship, (as some fellowships are insisting) or do we stick to the old hymns and gospel songs of the past? A familiar song is easier for one to sing and as an offering to the Lord, so this point should be considered, for those who may not be musically gifted.
After-all, the whole purpose is to bring as many of the congregation into a full worship as possible-is it not? We must not let pride get in the way of our choices.
In Closing, I believe it would more beneficial if worship leaders, would implement a blended style of song service. Then the onus would rests in the hands of both age groups, to learn the new and old songs and sing them with a sincere heart, and great gusto to the Lord and to each other.
Al Smith firstname.lastname@example.org Oct. 2011
Innisfil Ont. Can.