Posted by: rcottrill | November 4, 2009

Reasons Why I Don’t

Some weeks ago, a Christian friend suggested that I include articles on contemporary gospel songs on my blog site. I suppose I could, but there are reasons why I hesitate to do so.

1) I don’t know many of them that well, since that has not been my area of study. And, though some are fine, the exposure I have had to them has not greatly impressed me overall. They tend to have less depth of insight, and less theological “meat” than many of our older hymns.

2) It’s not really in keeping with my purpose. My goal is to reawaken interest in the traditional hymns of the church. I’m sure there are others willing to promote the contemporary songs. But meanwhile the hymn books are often gathering dust in the pews (if they are not removed altogether). This is, in part, because leadership is largely unaware of their contents, and younger ones in the congregation have been taught to avoid anything “old.” My hope is to make some small contribution to the reversal of that trend.

3) I have a goal in mind: to cover as many as possible of the hymns found in the most common hymn books published over the last few decades. (This keeps me busy enough!) When I’m done with the almanac portion of this blog, I’m hoping to have it published as a volume that can be used by pastors, worship leaders and others, to promote a greater understanding of hymns and an appreciation for hymn singing.

4) Copyright concerns can be a problem with newer songs. (And it is sometimes tricky to get permission to use them.) Most of the older hymns are in the public domain, which means they are free from copyright restrictions and easier to reproduce.

5) I like to feature historical incidents and background where I can, and these seem less available with many newer songs. Granted there are some things of interest reported in this area, but not as commonly.

6) Questions about contemporary songs come in occasionally thorough my website, Wordwise Bible Studies, and I try to dig up information and reply to the questioners there. It is often hard to find data, but at least I do my best to cover interest in these newer songs that way.

7) I am trying to speak for the disenfranchised. I have heard more than once of churches that have suddenly gone “contemporary” and taken the attitude, “If it’s too loud, you’re too old.” I have preached in churches where all the longsuffering crowd to the very back pews in order to keep as far away as possible from thundering speakers. There are other churches where folks simply leave, because the music they love is never used. I want them to know there are others that love our traditional hymnody too.


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