5 things to consider before pursuing “a reformation” in church music.
The two perpetual temptations in worship are to believe that older is automatically better and that there is no maturing in the church while on the other hand a second temptation is to believe that there is very little to learn from the early church worship. The second temptation assumes that newer is automatically better. For this group, worship music is to a large degree culturally defined, but the culture is only the newest one. Let’s be clear, while the first error does exist, it is the second error which is the great temptation of our age. We must move on – they beckon and argue. We must be relevant. The great sin of our age (it seems)is to look old. But before you make an overhaul in church music to become either “traditional” or “contemporary and relevant” here are 5 things to consider:
1. We should be grateful for what we have. We live in an age of complainers. We whine about everything, including church music. Yes, there is always room for improvement. Yes, we all cringe at certain songs. Yes, it would be nice if we had the Psalms that were not paraphrased set to music. Yes, it would be nice if we had better contemporary music. But God has been good to us. We have a great musical heritage from Ambrose to Luther to Wesley. We have more and more Psalms being set to music every year. Growth comes from gratitude not from grumbling.
2. Any reformation in church music must be built on the foundations of love for Christ and love for his people. If we seek reformation because we want to be “traditional” or because we want to be “relevant” we are going to make fundamental mistakes. Love for Christ and love for the Church form the center.
3. Singing in worship revolves around two primary things: faithfulness to God’s Word and the voice of the people. Everything else is important, but secondary to these two things. This is why our fathers chanted. They could chant the Word of God exactly as it is. And chanting highlighted the voice of the people.
4. Musical growth is dictated by God’s Word not by our current culture. That means our primary means of evaluating our singing will be the Bible.
5. We should want to thoroughly ingest the older songs and the older ways of singing. These men are our fathers in the faith. We should sit at their feet before we seek to stand on their shoulders. This does not mean we will like all their songs or methods. But it does mean that each church should seek to live within the stream of Christian tradition. No church should sing only new hymns and choruses and completely reject the older tradition. This only shows arrogance.[continue here for 4 other things to consider]
Excerpt from How to Pursue Reformation in Church Music.