Modern church music need be neither cheesy nor theologically weak

Some time ago I wrote here on the topic of singing. The post focused predominantly on the style and manner in which we should/could sing in church. One issue which was not addressed was the largely false dichotomy between older hymns and modern worship songs. This dichotomy often presents old hymns as theologically rich but musically staid and modern worship songs as theologically weak but musically more current. The main reason this presentation is false is because whilst some old hymns are theologically excellent but musically poor, some are theologically excellent and musically wonderful, others are theologically dire and musically brilliant, while others still are theologically barren and musically terrible. Similarly, the same can be said of modern worship songs too. Although some are theologically weak and musically enjoyable, some are theologically excellent and musically terrible, others are theologically sound and musically superb, while others are both theologically and musically awful.

What is the point of all this? I was recently put onto a group who have done a modern arrangement of the hymn ‘Hail to the Lord’s Anointed’. I make no comment on it’s merit save to say that I like it and here is an example of modern music with some lyrical value which, in my humble opinion, would not be inappropriate in church.


  1. the welcome wagon are great – and linked to sufjan stephens, which for me is the water mark of decent christian music these days (see also denison witmer etc)

    the innocence mission are another tangentially linked sufjan band who did a *glorious* (if pricey) collection of traditional hymns a few years back. the rest of their albums are absolutely peerless as well, but that one is stunning – it's called “christ is my hope”

  2. I agree – Sufjan Stevens hand is noticeable in the production. I was quite impressed by his 4 CD album of traditional Christmas songs.

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