I try to stay connected to several online worship leader forums. On one of them, under a discussion of “Contemporized Hymns,” I found this insightful comment left by Robert Cottrill:
H-m-m… It seems to me the wording speaks volumes–“this church throws one hymn into the mix every Sunday.” Sounds rather like a bone tossed to a barking dog to keep him quiet! This approach is all too familiar. A church committed to contemporary music, that tries to keep the old folks from complaining by “throwing in” the occasional hymn–often with a mangled arrangement that does nothing to improve on the original. This is not a “blended” approach; it is more like playing politics with the musical heritage of the church. How would you feel about a service of hymn singing that “throws one praise chorus into the mix every Sunday”?
Some 40 years of studying English hymnody, and writing extensively on the subject, has convinced me that any local church that abandons the hymn book leaves its congregation seriously impoverished. I know, “different strokes for different folks.” I’m just offering another point of view for your consideration.
We can’t ultimately know people’s motives, but my hunch is that not a small amount of people who say “we throw one hymn into the mix every Sunday” do so to placate a certain population in their congregation. If that’s the case, then “playing politics with the musical heritage of the church” is not far off the mark.
Even so, the hymns movement continues to quietly advocate a third way–old hymns to new music–which was a common practice in church music history from the time of the Reformation.