“I have a friend in California who started a Saturday evening praise service. I asked him why.
His reply: ‘To attract the unchurched. They can relate more to the simple praise songs. Hymns from the hymnals are too difficult to sing, and these are simpler.’
I have heard this reasoning a dozen times from a dozen pastors or church leaders who prefer praise songs to the church’s historic hymns. Ironically, in the vast majority of songs that are sung and the praise services, the ‘unchurched’ are hearing nothing of value about Jesus. We think we are making it easier for them to become Christians when, in fact, we are making it almost impossible. To know Christ one must learn what he has done. This doesn’t happen in most praise songs.”
- Pastor Klemet Preus in his book The Fire and the Staff: Lutheran Theology in Practice. 150.
I've read this book several times and am always intrigued with Pastor Preus' insight. Common sense would seem to dictate that if Christ, Christ's work and the result of Christ's work is not clearly taught in the hymns/songs we sing, then what is being taught and why are people singing?
I teach high school English. Every year young, inquisitive minds ask, "Why do we have to read A) Shakespeare
D) "The Open Boat"
E) ________________ (fill in the blank)
Every year they are correct. There must be a point to the reading. There must be some purpose to studying the universal conflicts of envy, jealous, greed, enjambment, asyndeton, selflessness, selfishness, Naturalism, et al.
The same needs to occur with our hymns and songs. Do we sing hymns to experience temporal, emotional contentment? Do we sing hymns to hear the eternal truth of Christ's atoning sacrifice? That will be the focus for this summer's recurring theme: What Does the Hymn Teach? (WDTHT)
I'll examine hymns and praise songs for the message of Christ crucified. I Corinthians 1:23
Let me know what you think or proffer a suggestion.