So today at lunch time I went down to the Guild Hall at Central UMC and had dinner with those invited to the “Golden Years Celebration” (read that as those 65+). It was a good time of food and distracting myself by texting the youth that were helping by serving the tables.
At the end of the meal they did a variation on a Hymn Sing. It was a variation because it really wasn’t an open hymn sing where those gathered choose the music but rather was already planned out. Not surprisingly though many of the hymns included in the sing probably would have been chosen by those gathered. As I sat there singing with them and joining the tunes that I grew up hearing my mother play on the piano as she practiced for Sunday worship, I started to ask myself the following questions:
“What will be my generations “hymn sing”? Will there even be such a thing for us or even those a generation before me?”
Now I realize that there is a chance that some “praise” hymns could take the place of those old-time hymns, but I wonder about the staying power since none of the instruments used for “praise” hymns (outside of the piano) seem to have the same staying power as “the organ.” Then I started wondering if we have lost our connection between music and spirituality. Personally, I don’t think that connection is lost. There are so many songs I have heard by what some would call “secular” artists that explore the human condition and navigate the condition through relationship to God in some way. These songs feed my soul, but you know what they aren’t part of “worship” within the church building and to be honest they weren’t written to be sung by “all.”
Have we as a society moved so far away from the corporate task of music in worship that all we have is the “old” hymns or hymns created within the “old” medium to help us join together in song? Obviously this isn’t fully the case as many churches have other mediums than the organ and piano upon which they corporately join in song, but even when that occurs I can’t help but have a feeling of passive reception.
I don’t know if I will ever figure it out. This question is just one of the many questions I have been having about worship lately. As I myself seek to enter into authentic worship that comes from celebrating the presence of God in my life and the community around me, I can’t help but wonder about what worship will be when I am in those “Golden Years.” Will my authentic response to God within the medium of Worship evolve and change as my life changes? I have to believe it will. When I was 17, I had a better chance of connecting with God by interacting with those who had music that connected with the my teenage angst, but now I connect more with the mellow reflective music (granted I still love punk but only in smaller doses)?
Which leaves me with the following question to ponder: When we stick in one pattern of worship to we cease to authentically engage with the presence of God within the work of worship?