My Take On Modern Worship Music

I heard someone ask recently if any of the “new” worship songs, ones from the last 10 years or so, would still be around in 20 years? I guess he was referring to that fact that churches still sing Amazing Grace and How Great Thou Art. I think that is a fare question, but the answer isn’t that simple.

Worship songs used to be a big involved ordeal. Songs were only written by those who had a penchant for writing and were coming out of only certain places. Today, worship songs are coming from everyone and everywhere. It seems, more so than ever, worship has grasped an entire generation or two. Where before you had congregations listening to giant choirs sing beautiful hymns written long ago, you now have congregations singing worship songs that very well could have been written by someone sitting near by.

Sometimes the “modern” worship songs are made fun of because they consist of only 3 chords. They are accused of being dumbed down musically to accommodate very mediocre musicians. It is brought out that the old hymns were difficult and required great skill at the piano or organ. That is true, I’ve seen the sheet music for a lot of them and I am impressed. But the problem is they can only be played by those who are very gifted musically. Modern worship music may be simpler to play but it opens itself up to a much greater percentage of people to play.

There seems to be a heart or pulse of worship going on. It isn’t relegated to a select few uber musicians, but is being brought forth by the multitudes. Worship songs and conferences are literally springing up everywhere, in every country. There is no way worship could have come from some of these places or countries a hundred years ago. But because of the simple 3-chord music you can have true heart-felt worship just about anytime and anyplace. All you need is an acoustic guitar or a keyboard.

I know music purists see this as a bad sign for musicians because they aren’t learning theory and stuff. But what they are learning may be more important; how to express their heart for God through song, no matter how simple.

I’m not implying that there has to be music in order to worship God, nor am I saying that the worship a 100 years ago was any less heart-felt. What I am saying is that God is doing something today through music that hasn’t been done before. He is using common, ordinary musicians and prayer leaders to lead the way in praising and honoring our God.

Look at even 10 years ago. All of the new music was coming out of the big record labels but now, churches are becoming their own label and recording music. It is harder than ever to keep up with what is new because there are hundreds of places and countries it is coming from.

I think that is encouraging and we need to grab hold of it and not let that heart of worship die. I know we all have that special “hymn” that we love, but don’t miss the forest for the trees. Don’t ignore what God is doing today, because He is up to something, and we need to join in.

So to answer the question of whether any “modern” worship songs will be around in 20 years, I’ll have to say yes, but not in the way you think. I believe the heart of the songs will be there; the pure, unadulterated, straight from the depth of their soul, worship will survive. At least for our sake, I hope so.

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2 Responses to My Take On Modern Worship Music

  1. john says:

    Good stuff Roy

    I think people miss the point when they call three chord music “dumbed down”. Three chord music is not dumbed down, its a platform. On that platform you can build whatever you wish. I can list a number of musicians that I could listen to soloing over the same three chords for hours without stopping and because of their talent, skill, and musicianship I would hang on every note.

    Worship music isn’t like that. In most worship songs the music is sort of “drawn back” so that the lyrics stand out more. It is, after all, the lyrics we reflect on that draw us closer to the presence of God, not the chord changes, the riffs, or the cool licks between the vocal lines. The three (or four or whatever) chord format is the platform that supports the writer’s message.

    Ultimately worship is about God. Its not about a particular song or even a certian type of music. Twenty years from now I will be in a totaly different place in Christ than I am now. I will need and want different songs. Idealy I will sing a new song. A song given to me by God that I will turn around and sing back to him in worship.

  2. Roy Bauer says:

    Preach it John

    Those are words of wisdom. As you spend personal time in prayer and worship, I encourage you to write it down. Maybe even put it to music. If you are already doing so then perhaps one day God will use it to bless others.

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