Modern Hymn Writers Aim to Take Back Sunday
"Our goal is to write songs that teach the faith, where the congregation is the main thing, and everybody accompanies that.”
“You know, for some people, singing a simple, seven-word, simple chorus, draws them into the presence of God,” he says. “And to me, ultimately, what is the goal of worship music? It’s to exalt God.” In the past few decades, some church leaders have called the tension between contemporary and traditional styles a “worship war,” and it hasn’t exactly let up. But the hymn is getting more love from modern worship leaders, even if it’s just tagging a new praise song with a classic chorus.
There was a time when hymns were used primarily to drive home the message that came from the pulpit. But then came the praise songs.
Matt Redman’s song “Our God” is the most popular piece of music in Christian churches today. That’s according to charts that track congregational singing — yes, there is such a thing. But approaching the Top 10 is a retro hymn: “In Christ Alone,” co-written by Keith Getty.
Keith’s wife, Kristyn, sings the hymn, while he plays the piano in their home near Nashville’s Music Row. The couple came to town to write songs not for individual artists, but for what Keith Getty calls “the congregation.”
“Our goal is to write songs that teach the faith, where the congregation is the main thing, and everybody accompanies that,” he says.
There’s no definition for what’s a hymn and not a praise song. But Keith Getty says it should be singable without a band and easy for anyone sitting in the pews to pick up. And it should say something bold.
“I think it’s to the church’s poverty that the average worship song now has so few words, so little truth,” he says. “[It] is so focused on several commercial aspects of God, like the fact that he loves our praises.”
Kristyn Getty says that some of the most popular music doesn’t show God the proper reverence.
To read an assessment on modern hymns and NPR, go here.