True confessions: I love praise and worship hymns! I am a modern worship leader and I LOVE praise and worship hymns! Hymns are great! They are majestic, and many contain more theology than the average sermon these days! Old folk love them, conservative folk love them, but many younger praise and worship leaders have thrown them out (along with everything before 2000) when they are leading. Gee, they even think the Beatles are uncool (such ignorance!).
Somewhere in the middle cries the voice of reason. Now granted, some praise and worship hymns are funeral marches, long, slow, boring and brain-numbing. Some contain rubbish theology and some are just plain irrelevant in both use of language and subject matter. Some are practically unsingable, except to 13th century monks! However, in amongst these types of praise and worship hymns are some of the greatest songs ever written, and some of the most majestic songs you could ever sing when worship leading!
Praise and Worship Hymns Add to Your Worship
Now, if you are young, and don’t believe me, check a few of them out. Praise and worship hymns like, “And Can It Be,” “Holy, Holy, Holy,” “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross” and “How Great Thou Art” are awesome. As worship leaders, we need to be considering these songs for inclusion in our worship services, because there is an amazing level of worship and teaching in the songs.
My preference, both personal and of my church, is that we sing at least one of our favorite praise and worship hymns every Sunday service. If you are creative and musical you can play it in such a way that it is exciting and awesome, and you can venture into the very presence of God using these old songs. On top of that, the old folk in the church will be thrilled. So you win either way. Trust me, guys; there are some great songs you cannot live without in the hymns section!
But if you are going to do a hymn, don’t make it into a funeral march! The older folks will love hymns done in a new and a fresh way, so pray and ask God for some innovative ideas to make the hymn into a modern masterpiece. Then watch God unite all ages as they worship Him using this old but new song!
A Word of Caution About Praise and Worship Hymns in the Service
One word of caution, especially to the conservative evangelical denominations. There is a huge tendency to have the worship songs, with the modern beat and instruments, and then insert the token hymn for the oldies, doing this with only an organ or a piano, played in a traditional yet boring style. I strongly caution you against this, because this only promotes the “us verses them” scenario, the “your music verses our music” polarizing we see in churches.
The best way is to just roll from the modern worship songs into the praise and worship hymns, seamlessly, and using a similar modern style. The majority of older folk will appreciate the fact that you are including their song preference, and making it your own, and trying as hard to make it special as if it were your own style of song. Thus, you can use well played hymns to join hearts in worship, rather than having the separate song for the oldies.
Praise and worship hymns should provide a wonderful theme to unite the old and the young in your church, but there are keys that will help you bring these grand old songs to your church in a new and fresh way. Our calling in worship leading is not to stay stuck in the past, but to draw the very best of the past into the present day and adapt the best of Christian heritage to today’s modern worship.
If you want to learn more about worship leading with praise and worship hymns, I am giving away a free report entitled, “Arranging Hymns For A Modern Church”.