Modernized hymns: Are you singing hymns, or just contemporary songs with old words?

My problem is not “contemporary worship.”  Yes, I have a preference for the traditional style, but my issue is not style but genuine worship. There are contemporary songs that I believe still maintain a strong sense of worship such as “In Christ Alone.

The argument for contemporized hymns is that they keep the substantive words but give it an updated sound that the people “like” and want to sing. But you see, the substance of worship as found in a song is not simply the words, but also in the music and how they blend and compliment each other to communicate the message.    Many of the old hymns, when you silently listen to them, you can not help but hear the words, for the music itself portrays the message.  Listen to the hymn, “Rock of Ages” for an idea of what I am talking about. The music needs to fit the words.

In the same way, simply adding a chorus to the middle of a hymn does at best little to aid the meaning and at worst causes it to become disjointed and confusing.  In the case of what people know today as “O The Wonderful Cross”, Chris Tomlin adds the chorus, “O the Wonderful Cross” to the middle of the hymn “When I survey.”  The problem is that the music completely changes it tone from solemnly reflective to joyous and feel good.  In addition, the words themselves become disjointed as the words “wondrous” and “wonderful” are two very different things, with very different meanings.  Now I have non question that the cross has become a wonderful thing to those who believe, but this is not the message of “When I Suvey” and takes away from that message.

Now, while I could continue, I would rather share with you the following blog post from “Ponder Anew”.  I think that Jonathan hits the nail right on the head.

Modernized hymns: Are you singing hymns, or just contemporary songs with old words?.

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