Monday, October 29, 2007

7-11 songs vs. hymns

Another poll type entry.
Why do we assume that the "7-11" songs are more "spiritual" than hymns? In case you don't know what a 7-11 song is, that is a chorus where you sing 7 lines 11 times.
We have at least one maybe two whole generations who have no idea what the hymns of our faith are, what their histories are, what the depth of spiritualism of the songs are.
I am sorry but "A Mighty Fortress is Our God" is a deeper more meaningful song then many of the modern choruses sung in church today. "Blessed Assurance". "Love Lifted Me". These are just a few of the most powerful songs ever written. We are missing out. Just because it is in a book? And just because it is put up on a screen and once a month the same two or three hymns are sung (one or two verses only) doesn't teach or even introduce the hymns to new generations. Is this all in the "we have to appeal to the masses" thing?
Chime in.


Tammy Bowers said...

A lot of the 7-11 songs are more spiritual because they are actual bible verses set to music. Not all, but a lot like 'This is the Day', Enter His gates with gladness, Mighty Fortress, Strong Tower, As the deer pants for the water, In the End I shall Stand on that day, etc. etc. Those are my favorite because it's a fantastic way to memorize scripture and worship God with HIS words, not human words.

Now, there are a ton of fantastic biblical hymns, but if you examine the words of SOME, I emphasize the word SOME, they are not biblically correct. They are from the imagination and creation of a human and not all are scripturally right. I don't like sing hymns that are not biblically accurate portrayals of God. Again, most of them are great, but not all.

Additionally, if you can't read music or you don't have a great singing voice, the hymns are harder to sing. Probably 80% of the church is in that boat. Probably 10% are in the choir, which leaves about 10% of people scattered around the service who can actually sing the hymns. For the rest of us, the majority, we're singing super quiet.

Which brings me to my final point. When I worship, I want to close my eyes and picture God on His throne. I want to lose myself at Christ's feet. That is impossible for me to do if I have to concentrate 3 or 4 verses of hymns, with strange words or hyphens, etc. rate. (Again, not all, just most.)

So, a few hymns are great. I LOVE variety and change. The message in SOME hymns is spot on, but not all. And when I want to lose myself in worship to God, I want actual scriptures set to music, which are NOT hard for me, a non-singer, so sing comfortably.

These are the reasons why I prefer what you call 7-11 songs, and what I call God's word set to music. (Again, some not all!)

Tammy Bowers said...

One more tidbit. Blessed Assurance was written by Fanny Crosby in the 1800's. You mentioned that song and the lack of younger generations knowledge of the history behind the hymns. Fanny was blind and wrote over 9000 hymns. She met and sung for every president during her lifetime of 90 years.

In kid's Choir, for the past 2 or 3 years, Karen has been teaching the kids about vaious hero's of faith. Fanny was one of them. A girl named Phoebe wrote the tune and could not think of the words to go with it. So she went to her friend, Fanny Crosby, played the tune for her, and asked what it sounded like. Fanny said, "Blessed Assurance." She then wrote the words in under an hour. That song is a true gift from God.

I can't wait to meet Fanny in Heaven. She's a hero. Lots of our church kids, including me, now know about her because of the study and skit in Karen's Kid's Choir.

Bill's Waste of Air said...

Thanks for those thoughts Tammy, as always well articulated which is what I want when I do these things.
As a History person, both world and church history, I am mainly concerned with the loss of knowledge and traditions.
I think that is fantastic about the kids choir and I was aware of that teaching.
What I am concerned about are the High School to 30 somethings that have not been exposed to these treasures of our faith.
Something is missing there.
"It is Well with my Soul". That song is as holy as any I can think of especially with the story that goes with it.
Most of the great hymns were written out of personal experiences, despair, deliverance, praise and every other thing known to man and his relationship to God. I dare say that they are almost as "God breathed" as scripture.

Anonymous said...

There are a lot of hymns that are "remade" by newer bands. Does that still count? Because those are some of my favorite songs. Jars of Clay, David Crowder Band, Chris Tomlin and others have some great stuff out. Go to youtube and listen to Christ Tomlin's "My Chains are gone"- it's "Amazing Grace" with an added chorus- simply wonderful if you ask me!

History and Tradition have a place, but if you want to reach the high school to 30's, you'll have to engage yourself with what they like musically. From my experience that is not singing either 7-11's or hymns straight out the hymn book. It is something more heartfelt- good words with good music.

Music should bring out our deepest emotion for God in order that we might worship Him, but also open our hearts to HIS word.

Just some random thoughts tonight.

-K biz wiz

Jennyth said...

I am studying Roman and Greek history right now and have to chime in.

Tradition changes, it just does.

If you start forcing 20 to 30 somethings into something that is intended for an older generation, you're going to lose them.

You just are.

That's why I love the idea of two different kinds of services in churches, so both age groups can be met. It seems to be working, and we've noticed in many churches, with this battle of hymns vs worship music solved, the generations come together to serve in differnt ways. We don't go to a church like this, but I've looked into them, and have friends that attend them.

One guy I've read talks about my generation and those below me and our attention spans. We are all conditioned to be stimulated by tv's and video games. We are just a different generation, we've been raised differently. The culture moves at a faster pace. It's happening, and there is nothing that can be done to stop it. I have rules about my boys and how much tv/video games they can have in their lives, but it still doesn't stop the fact that Parker just knows how to fix the mini-dvd player when I can't. Different generation.

Point being, I think it's important to love and support all traditions in many ways, while embracing new ones. Time moves in new directions, it just does.

Love ya Bill, but strongly disagree wtih you. I love David Crowder (who is a younger 7-11 type guy) and he includes hymns all of the time, with a beat and style that I get excited about. It's not appealing to the masses, it's about INCLUDING everyone, not just the few.


Jennyth said...

I also second what K-Biz wiz says.

Anonymous said...

Our old president at fox who was in his 70's once told our chapel band that even though he doesn't prefer the younger style of worship, he wouldn't trade watching our generation worship the lord with true passion for any personal favorite hymn. I thought to myself, there is a guy who sees a bright future in the church and has an amazing attitude! Honestly, there has to a point where we accept change in music. Lots of love, k biz

Jason Palmer said...

OK... Hymns do have great importance in the history of church music... that is really not the point. God has ordained and blessed amazing songwriters in every generations that have drawn people to Christ. That is the point right??? Much like "7-11", the church and it's music has changed it's "slurpie flavors" to draw in new customers each month. It's still the same old slurpie... just a new flavor. Don't get me wrong... there are imposters and posers that will bring songs of cheese and songs that lack any substance at all... but there are many that have been instrumental in changing lives for Christ. I could be wrong, but I am pretty sure that the same Holy Spirit moves in the Church today as did in any generation in the past regardless of what songs are being sung...

What is important in Church music today is that we dont forget the music of any generation... but not having the fear to "try something new". Music is not a substitute for for the Word of God... its a path to lead the lost to It.

How did Christ respond to all the "traditions"in the Church... If you would like to hear some amazing "non-tradtional" worship songs that really lift op the name of Christ... check out 121 community church worship band on i-tunes....

Jason Palmer

Bill's Waste of Air said...

Good stuff guys and gals!
I love this kind of discourse.
Now I do want to revisit one thought that I had.
That is the HISTORICAL importance of Hymns.
We go to college, high school, grad school etc and are required to learn history in some form. Why? So that we understand the past which helps us understand the present and perhaps prevent mistakes in the future.
I see the hymns in the same way. To just pass it off as an age thing is to pass off all history as irrelavant to young people.
History is history and is necessary to all people.
Hymns are history of our Christian faith. If one leaves out any one part of our history, you might as well leave it all out.
Second, I am not a fan of split church services. If I walk into a church and see all young people or all old people I start running away as that is NOT a healthy church. It takes all ages to make a church healthy so that all ages can help each other in their spiritual growth. If we have to split churches over such a small thing as the music, then we have a deeper problem.
I brought all this up as a way to discuss music, but don't get me wrong, I will never let music get in the way of the spirtiual growth of a church. It is pretty minor compared to prayer and the Word.
Fun discussion, continue on.

Tammy Bowers said...

Kristi and Jenny, Spot on girls. I ditto everything you both said. Your GFU Pres. was a wise man, Kristi. And Jason, I love the slurpie analogy ... same thing, just a different flavor. You are right, too.

Jenny's comment on the difference in generations is sooooo true, and a fact we must work to our advantage. For example, I can't wait for Bree to come home next month. While she's here, I need her to add a bunch of numbers to my cell phone address book. I have no idea how to do that and she can save me time figuring it out. I shall take advantage of our generational difference.

One final thing, I've never been to a church that has two different worship services going on at the same time, then come together for preaching. However, Bob and Marlene have visited several on their travels, and they sound great! I would love to go in with Paul and the band to worship with the teens at our church, because I love that kind of worship, and then join the service for Randy's preaching. If that were an option, I'd do it. Not every Sunday, but several times a month. I love variety and change.

Good food for thought, everyone.

Jennyth said...


One thing to say. At one of these "split" service churches I've visited and talked with their pastors...this was shared.

The older generation that loves the choir model and hymns love to help with the jr. high ministry. Kid you not. The older ladies come and hang out during the big youth events, serve food and love on Jr. Highers. That, my friend, is healthy.

Be careful not to broadbrush. That's another lesson I've learned over the years. My stereotypes of church continue to be destroyed and I'm so glad about that.

It really is working effectively in some churches. Not all I'm sure, but the one I experienced was healthy.

Nice words J-Palm and Tammy.

Keep the thoughts coming!!

Anonymous said...

Let's not get stuck with separating everything by generation and age groups. God made us all unique and we all may enjoy different styles. I would hate for us to limit music interests by age. There are many in their 20's and 30's who would prefer to stay as "traditional" as possible and on the other end many in their 50's, 60's, and up that enjoy Chris Tomlin, Jars of Clay, etc.

Why do we keep trying to limit church and the people in it?