Church Music: Hymns and Praise Songs

Robert J. Morgan, an author who wrote several books dealing with the stories behind favorite church hymns, has a good article on church music. In his article he discusses the use of hymns and praise songs in church.

Morgan believes that Christians should use contemporary Christian music, but they should not abandon the traditional hymns of the church because those hymns combine “prayer with praise, keen theology with vivid imagery, and majesty of God with our daily needs. That’s something we can’t afford to misplace.”

In his article, Morgan mentions the “Song of Moses”and the “Song of Miriam”in Exodus 15, which he calls “the first recorded hymn in the Bible.”  Below is an excerpt from Morgan’s article:

Nothing can replace the heritage of our hymns, for there’s a part of our spirits that only responds to God’s truth in musical form. A good hymn combines prayer with praise, keen theology with vivid imagery, and majesty of God with our daily needs. That’s something we can’t afford to misplace.

Don’t get me wrong. I love contemporary Christian music, and we sing it at the church I pastor. It’s important to keep our songs fresh and living, for if there’s ever a generation of Christians that doesn’t write its own music, Christianity is dead. Every generation needs to compose its own praise. But the popularity of today’s Praise and Worship music is threatening to do something that hasn’t happened in all of Christian history — sweep away the heritage of hymnody that represents a treasure trove of praise for the church. There’s never been a generation of Christians that sang only its own music while discarding all the songs of prior epochs. This isn’t the time to begin the trend.

I believe heaven will ring with songs from all the ages, so why shouldn’t we practice now? If worship unites the entire family of God — past, present and future — isn’t it appropriate to intertwine the ancient with the modern? When I sing the “Doxology,” I’m joining an exercise of praise known to my grandparents and great grandparents. When I sing the newest upbeat chorus from a praise-and-worship band, I’m joining voices with my grandkids. Our appreciation for the hymns doesn’t preclude us from embracing next-generation praise. But the freshness of today’s praise flows from a history stretching back to the first recorded hymn in the Bible, in Exodus 15.

Interwoven or blended worship is the standard operating procedure of church history.

Call me an old-fashioned Christian, but I prefer singing the great hymns of the church. How about you?

You can read Morgan’s article here.

Claude Mariottini
Professor of Old Testament
Northern Baptist Seminary

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6 Responses to Church Music: Hymns and Praise Songs

  1. Jerry says:

    I agree whole-heartedly.

    I think his words here capture a perfect balance:

    “It’s important to keep our songs fresh and living, for if there’s ever a generation of Christians that doesn’t write its own music, Christianity is dead. Every generation needs to compose its own praise. But the popularity of today’s Praise and Worship music is threatening to do something that hasn’t happened in all of Christian history — sweep away the heritage of hymnody that represents a treasure trove of praise for the church. There’s never been a generation of Christians that sang only its own music while discarding all the songs of prior epochs. This isn’t the time to begin the trend.”

    Like

    • Claude Mariottini says:

      Jerry,

      It is sad that many people today do not know the amazing gospel message most old hymns teach to believers. I like contemporary praise songs, but I feel much better when people sing those old hymns.

      Thank you for commenting on this post.

      Claude Mariottini

      Like

  2. I was glad to see this post and was especially touched by the statement that each generation needs to create their own worship music. We must gratefully receive each generation into the church from dedicating a new baby, thruout life, and in death. Not only is there different hymns in different generations, but each Christian worships God in his heart in his heart in their own unique way.

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    • Claude Mariottini says:

      Giavanna,

      I agree with your view. Music has a way of speaking to people and each generation has a different way of listening to music. I do not believe that church people should fight over music, but this is precisely what is happening in many churches today. I like the old hymns but I am happy to sing contemporary praise songs. I believing in reaching people, young and old, where they are. If contemporary music is a way of bringing people to church, I all for it.

      Thank you for your comment.

      Claude Mariottini

      Like

  3. Pingback: The Essence of Hymns Singing | MILAN EVANGELICAL MUSIC

  4. Pingback: Hymns in Churches – Why Are They Important? | MILAN EVANGELICAL MUSIC

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