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Contemporary vs Traditional Music

9 Marks Ministries has a great article about which is right: contemporary or traditional music. Too often when people write about this subject it stems from one of two opposite viewpoints. The first is that any type of contemporary music is evil. These are the people who relate stories about the children of missionaries being told by the natives that their rock music is the very same music the natives left behind when they came to the Lord. These are the people who believe that guitars are somehow inherently evil while the organ somehow is God’s own instrument. On the other side of the argument we have people who say that since we no longer listen to hymns as part of popular entertainment they have no place whatsoever in our modern worship. Hymns date a church and appeal only to the old folks in the church, thus alienating the boomers, the busters and anyone younger than that.

Both of those arguments are irrational. It seems clear from Scripture that we can worship God in different ways and that no single form of music is inherently more right before God than another. And this is what appeals to me about the article I read this morning. The author, Vell Rives, does not condemn either form of music. I will spoil the surprise by saying that he does believe hymns are a better form of worship than contemporary music, but his reasons make sense. For example, he points out that hymns are designed specifically for worship where contemporary music is designed for personal enjoyment. He also says that the hymns we sing today are particulary beauitful and well-written. This is not to say that all hymns are good – just that generally only the best ones have stood the test of time.

I agree with his arguments. However, I do believe there is a place for more modern music and certainly have no problems singing “Here I Am To Worship” on a Sunday morning. I love to mix the old with the new. I do think that when we jettison the old we lose an important link to the church of past days. There is an inspiring continuity when we realize we are singing a song that believers sang hundreds of years ago, using the same tune and the same words to worship the same God. Many of those hymns will continue to be sung long after we are dead and gone.

You can read the article here.


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