Why must we have new worship songs?

Yes, it’s quite true. I’m a fan of songs in church which serve the congregation, are easy to pick up and hum along with, are not full of spiritual jargon that people find hard to decipher, and communicate some aspect of faith or spiritual life effectively.

Tragically, I also like Christmas carols and old hymns and things written in 1970s (before I was born!) which require a rainbow guitar strap to be fully effective.

The church requires new material, but it does so at the expense of the songs which have gone before. Even the most staid of church environments find time for new hymns and I know of at least one church where a record is kept of the hymns used from the hymn book, to ensure even exposure.

Where does this desire come from? Why do some of us crave the variety and excitement of new material? More importantly, how many times can you play something new before it becomes old?

We are instructed in the Bible to present ourselves as offerings before God. For a creative bod such as me, that can mean presenting the things we have created, particularly if that means material for the use or benefit of the church. I accept this leads to a fairly high level of trite or poor quality stuff that needs recycling before it does any lasting damage to the tastes of the listener. However, we now use a tiny proportion of the material composed for church use since the dawn of Western music. That’s a lot of natural wastage. Some music is written for the moment. Some is more enduring, but that’s not the real point.

If we do not create, we risk stifling the nature God gave us. So, to produce new material is a natural and normal consequence of our creation by God. We should be happy to accept the new and integrate it into our Sunday worship. The new could even be the old, repackaged. Retro is good.

We must have new worship songs because the needs and focus of the members of our church aren’t static, and the creative output of our musicians is valuable as an act of worship and devotion.


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