On Today’s Congregational Music

We affirm that twenty-first-century churches must worship God in their own words, with their own voice

“Singing beautiful and truthful songs of yesteryear should always be part of the Christian worship experience. Nevertheless, the command to sing to God in the present implies that believers will be working hard to craft hymns and songs that build on Scripture and the genuine Christian tradition, but nevertheless report the experience of a 21st century believer. Put simply, if we preach and pray using our own words in 2014, we ought to sing and compose in our own words in 2014.”

 

This is a series to further explain the articles of “A Conservative Christian Declaration.”

Article 13: On Today’s Congregational Music

We affirm that twenty-first-century churches must worship God in their own words, with their own voice. We add the qualification that these expressions must be expressions of ordinate affection and build on the tradition that represents such, while answering to the twenty-first-century imagination. We further affirm that every man is to sing with understanding (1 Cor 14:15) and that good music or poetry may be simple. Finally, we affirm that church music ought to be beautiful.

We deny that music choices should be made to appease or attract a particular constituency in the church. We deny that the average Christian is capable of appreciating only the simplest kind of music. We deny that good music or poetry worth loving can be shallow, trivial, banal or clichéd. At the same time we also deny that Christians should worship with forms that are incomprehensible to them.

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The commands to sing to God in psalms, hymns and spiritual songs are given to all believers of every age. We are to sing to Him in 2014, and not only using words written in 1614. We ought to sing to Him of our experience in our era, using our own words.

While the sermons of Spurgeon and Edwards are delightful and continue to bless believers, we rightly expect modern preachers to expound the Scriptures to us in their words, using their gifting, applying the Word to us in 2014. A church that preached only sermons from a supposed golden age of preaching would be attempting to ‘pickle’ the religious experience of those days and use it in 2014. Preaching doesn’t work that way. Singing doesn’t either.

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