If I Could Only Have Old Hymns or Contemporary Christian Music?

I’d choose contemporary Christian songs, of course.  The reason?  Very simply, if we had no new Christian music, Christianity would be dead in our generation. 

Ever since Moses wrote a spontaneous hymn celebrating Israel’s deliverance through the Red Sea (Exodus 15), every generation of believers has composed their own praises to God.  The history of hymnology tells us that each upcoming group of young people needs to express themselves in fresh songs to the Lord.  Had no Christian music been penned from 1990 to 2009, it would indicate there were no Christian young people, no Christian musicians, no Christian hymnists, no one with fresh faith—and Christianity would be DOA.

Of course, we don’t need to choose.  The old hymns connect us with 2000 years of Christian heritage, and the newer songs keep us fresh and alive and appealing to newer generations. 

That’s why I love blended worship.  As Jesus put it, everyone who has been instructed in the things of the Lord “is like the owner of a house who brings out of his storeroom new treasures as well as old” (Matthew 13:52).

PS – Our hymnology is a crucial part of the Christian story.  Check out my books on hymn histories.

One thought on “If I Could Only Have Old Hymns or Contemporary Christian Music?

  1. I like your citation of Exodus 15. It’s probably the best picture of congregational worship I can think of.

    The entire people of God have been delivered from the hands of the enemy. It’s all about spiritual warfare, deliverance, redemption, community, and exaltation of God who rescues His People. It’s ultimately all about Jesus as it foreshadows our redemption by His blood.

    It’s important for God’s people to have a personal relationship with the Lord and to see worship as something taking place between “me and God” on a daily basis. We see this in the Psalms. However, when we meet together as a congregation, the Exodus 15 model seems to be more fitting. Where it’s less about “me” and God and more about “us” and God.

    I think when people lift their hands in worship, it’s a beautiful thing that they’re truly connecting with God in their spirit; for God wants worshipers to do so in spirit and in truth. But if we’re too influenced by our American individualism, if we raise our hands to God but neglect to join our hands with each other, we’re missing the joy of congregational unity in worship!

    Furthermore, Paul references worship as a tool for the congregation, not limited to the individual: “Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord” (Ephesians 5:19).

    So what’s important to me personally, is less the style of music, and more that we embrace worship in our individual hearts and lives, but also share in the joy of congregational unity, understanding it to be something we do together!

    Sometimes I wonder what that moment must have been like for the Israelites. I can almost see the smiles and tears of amazement and joy, I can almost feel the excitement as the Israelites experienced salvation. Then I realize that what we’ve been rescued from is something far more dangerous than Pharaoh’s armies and our salvation is far more profound.

    God has rescued His people from the hands of the serpent. Pharaoh’s armies were at the bottom of the sea — Jesus has secured a place for Satan and his minions at the bottom of the lake of fire. We can rejoice that the serpent’s head has been crushed through Jesus. And TOGETHER we can rejoice, singing:

    In your unfailing love you will lead
    the people you have redeemed.
    In your strength you will guide them
    to your holy dwelling. (v. 13)

    My desire is to engage in congregational worship with the same joy and excitement every time the church gathers.

    P.S. I’m a big fan of The Red Sea Rule #10 that says “Don’t Forget to Praise Him”

    P.S.S Bethany Dillon has a song Called “Exodus (Faithful)” – a contemporary song based on Exodus 15 (you can buy the song for a dollar or listen to a preview at Amazon). Here’s a link

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