Battle of the Hymns! – Old Hymns VS Newer Worship Songs

by Spike Bowan  |  published on June 2, 2017

It is an ongoing struggle in many congregations across the country.

I don’t know how it is in your church, but in my church; it is an unspoken issue. One that I feel needs addressed. The “Elephant in the Room”, that people know about, but whisper to one another in secret.

I am talking about more modern worship songs versus old timey hymns.

I am on the worship team for my church, and am a little bit of Rock ’N’ Roll. I like more up-tempo songs. A little country, a little rock, even a little blues; if the song gives me goosebumps and I can feel my worship of God hitting home to myself, then THAT is the song I want to sing.

By no means am I wanting a laser show with fog machines and pyrotechnics, I just feel that the older hymns are rather bland in most cases. The older parishioners of my church would strongly disagree with me however. Maybe it’s a fear of change?

For example; last Sunday my worship team led the congregation in worship with three songs. Beautiful songs, some a little more up-tempo than others but nothing to extreme. All three songs are derived from Psalms. You may know them.

  1. Jehovah Jireh
  2. As the Deer
  3. Psalm 23

The comment was made after the service by one of the older deaconess’ that none of the songs we were signing were based on scripture.

Really? All three songs come from the book of Psalms. Wow, the last song is even called “Psalm 23”. I was floored!

I get that the older Psalms are what folks grew up with for the past six decades, and we do sing them at church. Not as often as the more senior members of our congregation would like perhaps; but we do sing them.

I get where the debate comes from, it is a fear of change. Many of the same people demanding the older songs be all we sing are the very same people that think you must wear a suit and tie to church. Which baffles me, because I think God would rather care about a person seeking him than what they wore to church on Sunday morning.

Isaiah 1:18

18  “Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool.”

I believe this is where the phrase “come as you are” comes from. But I digress. Now, this article isn’t to slight anyone or point fingers. I am merely trying to point out that change is okay. You can find a happy balance between the old and the new, but eventually; if a church is to survive, it must be able to adapt and change with the times while remaining cored in the scripture.

Failure to adapt has killed off more churches in our nation than I can count. If a church is to survive, you must add more people in the pews. It’s as simple as that. And the lost and wayward on the streets, especially in today’s society; don’t want to hear or sing songs that were written over a hundred years ago. Neither do the people who have been attending a certain church for four or five decades want to sing more modern worship songs that would attract new members.

I look at it like this. Think of a church as a restaurant business, you can have the most amazing menu and get people from all over to come and try your food, but if you serve the same menu for forty years, customers aren’t going to keep coming. You have to add new menu items to the food you serve so the business can keep going. Yes. I just said a church is like a business. It is a cold hard truth. You want customers in the seats? Than you have to give them a reason to come.

Good hospitality, good worship and good preaching. The ultimate agenda here is the salvation of our brothers and sisters, isn’t it? To worship as God would want us too and to minister to our neighbors?

John 4:23 says:

Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks.”

There has to be a balance of new and old in the church. I fight to find that balance so all, can be saved; and come to worship. As God would have us do.