Revisiting the Church Music Debate

A few years back I wrote Repetition of Phrases in Modern Praise Songs Compared to some of the Good Old Hymns.  I counted repetition in lyrics because someone was criticizing the new music we were introducing at church as being too repetitive.  My conclusion was, "Repetition is not a question of new songs versus old songs. It is more of whether it is a repetition we are used to and like compared to a new repetition."  Things seem to be going much better at our church in recent times, and the focus is, hopefully, more fully on Jesus now.

This was all brought to mind once again when an internet visitor named Jay posted a comment that stirred the pot the other day.  Jay wrote:
Well, your post does not tell the whole story. Just google any of the Hymns you listed and you will see a pattern of Stanzas and Refrains (Choruses). Most of the Hymns have 3 or more Stanzas and they read more like Bible Doctrine whereas many Modern Day Praise songs are repetitive choruses or 1 or 2 short stanzas with Very little doctrine. Some of them just come across almost like a Mantra more than anything.
I posted a link to the original post on Facebook to see what my friends thought.  I received many insightful comments, but one was like lightning in a bottle.  Delivered with more vitriol and passion than I can muster, Brandon Caroland replied to my post and others' comments.
God only likes 19th century adaptations of contemporary secular songs, and some negro spirituals like Amazing Grace. He doesn't really like much music from the 14th century. But He does like some stuff from Martin Luther in the 16th century. But not the German Versions. Only the King's English. Actually God only likes music without royalties. Public domain stuff.

Actually he only likes music that comes from hymnals, because they kinda look like Bibles. Actually my hymnal growing up had some David Meece songs in it. He was contemporary in the 80s. Maybe God only likes music that predates the my high school graduation. I know its something arbitrary and senseless. God is obviously arbitrary and senseless. He only likes music that White people sing from books printed in English between 1800 and 1990. He Leadeth Me is a pretty fluffy song. God likes it though. More than something like God of this City. Both are corporate songs sung to each other. Neither one has any doctrine to speak of, but both challenge the listener to take their walk more seriously. Which is stupid. Learning is all anyone does.

Like Regan said. We all like what is familiar and what touched our hearts. Jay if you like hymns because they challenged you once, you should pay more attention to what is connecting with young people. they are the future. you'll never get the kids to like classical music. sorry. Hymns are great for what they are. classics. nostalgia. great writing. great music. born of great stories, told at a great time. but since that time, new stories have been told, history hasn't repeated itself. the music was written to appeal to a time before the blues and ragtime. before jazz. before rock and roll.

I'm sure Luther would have freaked if he heard Amazing Grace. What? NO IAMBIC PENTAMETER? You can't chant that!

In conclusion. most of these debates are meaningless. Chasing after the wind. At what age do people stop being rational and start thinking crazy thoughts like "hymns have more doctrine"? I can't think of a more ridiculous argument. Probably the same people that want to fight about putting up flags in the church. Probably the same people that want you to type a bulletin on a typewriter. Probably the same people that love you deeply, as long as you don't cross em. Probably the same people that think Sara Palin is smart. Probably the same people that paid for me to go to church camp and underwrote my first year of Bible College. I love them and I hate them They move the kingdom forward while holding it back.
 Thanks to Brandon for sharing and allowing me to repost as a guest blog post.