Do We Need More Songs?

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If you are anything like me you wonder at times if there aren’t enough songs or hymns in this world already and maybe we should declare a moratorium on all new congregational songs… at least for a few years so we can catch our breath. But then a song like In Christ Alone comes around and it finds its way into our worship services and hearts, and we wonder how we managed to get by without it all these years. 
 
I just returned from a conference where I led a workshop on Hymns for Worship. During my preparation for that workshop I looked at the theological and cultural environment songs were written in. When looking at the songs for the Lord’s Supper it became apparent that the texts highlighted a particular aspect of the Lord’s Supper that may have been most helpful for that time period. In the 4th C for example the mystery of the sacrament was highlighted whereas in the 21st C the focus has become our lived out response to the sacrament (with many other themes highlighted in between).   It occurred to me that no one song could capture the full meaning of the sacrament and that congregations are most balanced and blessed when they include songs and hymns with a variety of sacramental themes as expressed through the centuries of text writing.  In other words we need both the old and the new for the fullest expression of our faith.
 
Do we need more songs? Yes, if they will help us gain a fuller understanding of God’s glory and grace, or express our laments, praises and confessions in worship in a deeper way. But as worship planners it is also our task to make sure that the diet of songs/hymns we are offering is balanced. That we don’t focus on the service without the mystery and awe or the mystery without the service for example. 
 
So I encourage all text writers and musicians to continue their work of putting our faith into song and to find new words and expressions to help us worship.   (And by the way, the hymnal committee is open to receiving 5 of your newly composed texts/songs. The cutoff date for new submissions is December 31, 2010. For submission guidelines click here.)
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Great article and I totally agree 100% with what is said.

But, I want to suggest that this can be given another point of view. Why do we have different congregations which sing different songs? It's because each one of us has a unique and independent voice. My wife and I may say the same phrase with the same words from the same sentence [word for word], but how we say it, the accents and tones we use differ tremendously. Even though we have the same feelings for the same statement, our voice differs.

This is the same for every congregation! Each one of us has an incredible voice that sings a tune of celebration to Christ our King: to deny that is to deny a gift that Christ has given each and every one of us.

It's a beautiful diversity to celebrate and a relevant tension to live within.

Disclaimer: I believe Borger would agree with me on this so don't think this is original on any level. I only felt called to point this out.

Participant

Yours is a great analogy. Even in older hymnals many of the songs are sung in diverse congregations with different rhythms and pronunciation of the same words.