There are some meaningful, biblical new songs. Like many others, I am not opposed to singing some new songs in church. Why, though, do so many churches have to throw out all the old loved and tested songs of the faith? Instead of singing some new and some of the once-familiar hymns, many churches now do not seem to know how to have the congregation sing. Rather than leading the congregation in singing to the glory of God, they now have “worship teams” and “bands” who provide entertainment and emotional, repetitive songs, but the reverence and biblical depth are missing.
Recently at our church, a visiting couple sat behind us. As we sang the new Amazing Grace song, the wife whispered to her husband, “Why can’t churches just sing the old Amazing Grace anymore?” This is true of many of our songs. Some “artist” decided to take a hymn, sing the first verse in the regular way, then add drums and guitars to the second verse, then change the tune a little (usually making it worse), and add some phrase or two that are repeated about ten times, relying on emotion for success.
I was amazed one day as we were listening to an old familiar hymn on the radio, and our children had never heard of it before. I realized that in their church times, they can go from child to adult and never hear the great hymns of the faith. They might be able to sing that God lives in a big house where they can play football, or that Jesus is a superhero, but they never learn that God is a Mighty Fortress, Springs of Living Water, Take Time to Be Holy, Take My Life and Let it Be, Sweet Hour of Prayer, Rock of Ages, The Solid Rock, Nothing But the Blood, and so many more. Why do so many churches think it is good to simply discard these songs that have provided faith and hope and peace for generations of saints?
Instead, they justify it by attempting to sing their modern drum and guitar-filled versions with the emphasis on the added repetitious phrases, appealing to emotion rather than to Christian doctrine and experience. Think of the songs: Amazing Grace, It is Well with My Soul, even the Doxology (where “Amen” is repeated over and over again, When I Survey the Wondrous Cross (when the emphasis is on the repetition and emotion of “O the wonderful cross”), and Here is Love, Vast as the Ocean, where we cannot even sing the “love song of the Welsh revival” without someone having twisted it all around.
Certainly, it is good to sing new songs to God, but let them be biblical and not mere entertainment and emotion. Let us sing with reverence and holiness. I recently saw a youth conference (and the adult one later was similar) where the “worship leaders” jumped round with their hats on and their cool t-shirts, with light shows and smoke and the usual worldly copying. They ended their evening by have a “dance party to God,” and their level of love for God was allegedly measured by how much they could jump up and down.
When the national anthem is played, we rightly, reverently, and respectfully take off our hats. Why, then, do our “worship leaders” not show the same reverence and respect for God when they allegedly lead us to God?
Let us sing new songs to God—and let us sing them to God. I am convinced that with the majority of “contemporary worship” we could change the words to the songs and make them unbiblical, and most people would sing the songs just as enthusiastically, for they sing from the emotion of the music and not with understanding. So, let us not be afraid to sing new songs to God that are pleasing to Him, but let us not be afraid to return to the old paths, too, and find rest for our souls (Jeremiah 6:16).
I love to hear my children sing This Little Light of Mine, Seek Ye First, As the Deer, Jesus Loves the Little Children, etc., but am disappointed when I learn that they do not sing those songs at church anymore, but instead sing that God has a big house and a big yard where we can play football. I want to thank those pastors and true song leaders and children’s workers who still sing songs that are meaningful and biblical and respectful. May our children learn to honor and love and respect God in song rather than just learn to entertain themselves.