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With the growing popularity of Christian music today, battle lines are being drawn between those who choose traditional hymns (commonly heard in the Catholic churches among others) and praise and worship songs (being sung more vigorously in the Protestant churches such as the Calvary Chapels and Methodist Churches). This plight has put the church in a rather precarious situation. Discussions throughout the Christian world have been taking place as to the question, "What type of music should be sung by congregations across the country?"

Arguments for both sides stand strong, with near equal numbers on each side. The hymns, defended by the older and younger generations alike, have been around for centuries and often have lyrics taken straight from the Bible. These songs have a strong sentimental value, since some date back as far as 2700 years (see Isaiah 53). Hymns give a sense of freedom when one considers the rich history and language behind each hymn. Many believe removing the hymns from Sunday morning church services could be compared to taking the fish out of the sea.

On the other end of the spectrum, there have been more Christian contemporary songs heard not only on Christian radio stations such as Air 1 Radio and The Christian Music Radio Network, but also on secular radio stations as in the case of MercyMe's "I Can Only Imagine. The fact that people are beginning to become familiar with these songs is also contributing to the draw of more and more people to church that are often scared away by the "old-fashioned" hymns. The praise songs are upbeat and attract the attention of the children and adults alike. They give a sense of freedom to openly praise the Lord, in which ever way one feels right, whether by just singing, or by the raising of arms, reaching toward the Lord. Worship songs are more of an outlet to openly worship the Lord, with more diversity in the lyrics than many common hymns. Recently, however, praise and worship songs have come under attack for containing poor music quality and lyrics that are too simplistic.

And then there is the side that enjoys praise and worship as well as hymns, not choosing one over the other. Whether it is upbeat praise songs or the traditional hymns, it doesn't matter to them. As long as they are singing of the great works the laudable Lord has done, they are content.

So in conclusion, there is no clear-cut, direct route to satisfy everyone. There will always be the traditionalists who want their Sunday morning hymns and the radical "young-uns" of today who opt for the more contemporary praise and worship songs. And it shouldn't lie on the church to satisfy everyone; however, they should at least make an attempt, possibly by having one service on Sundays with hymns, earlier in the morning, and the later services with the praise and worship music. Also, churchgoers need to realize that the point of singing, praise/worship and hymns isn't to satisfy themselves. It is to worship God, and the way that they can do this is by reading the Bible and learning.
- Ashley Nier
September 2003
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