Friday, 18 March 2011

Golden Oldies

I reflect sometimes on things that people remember well and the things that we are constantly changing. Does each church reflect one culture as it incorporates new things or do they reflect a wide range?

A book I read a little while ago "Re-Emerging Church" suggests that there is a time window of opportunity for the church, related to the baby-boomer generation (born 1946-1964). As they are starting to retire and look back at familiar things of their childhood, one such is church because many went to Sunday school and are looking for familiar, comforting things. However when they drop by the local church often it does not resemble anything that they recognise. Modern hymns, casual dress code, changed or no liturgy etc. all of the things that they recall gone with the result that many don't go back again. A chance to re-engage with them and to possibly lead them to faith rather than comfort, lost.

When I think about it, given that I am a mid-generation boomer who didn't go to church as a child, my heart does respond when I hear some of those old hymns and tunes. Recently at music practice in church, my wife came out with a classic song and it started a session of singing some of those wonderful old hymns that left us exhilarated.

Thats is not to say that I don't love to sing the modern songs, although some, like some of the old ones really should have been binned at birth! But perhaps the point is that we should not make church to be how we like it and forget that others may find comfort in some of the old familiar things that we have tried to put out.

There is something profound and comforting, not to say challenging about understanding the Lord's Prayer when we say it or when the Creeds of the church are spoken out together or when we sing the verses of a well penned, easy to sing Hymn. After all they were written to remind us of the great truths of our faith.


Graham said...

I think the old hymns had simple tunes with deep meaning, sadly many of the modern songs have complicated tunes and simple, often theologically inaccurate words. There are exceptions - Graham Kendrick and Stuart Townend for instance. One of my pet hates is when a good hymn is taken and put to a modern tune. Concentrating on getting the tune right takes your mind of the words.

Tony Mayes said...

Good point Graham, I think more recently there have been some good adaptations - for example "The Wonderful Cross" and the re-writing and scoring of "The Lords my Shepherd".

But like you, I prefer simple tunes and music that the congregation can learn easily.