Updated: Aug 4, 2021
The Modern(?) Question
It’s an interesting debate these days, relevant Christian music versus traditional hymns. Is there even such a thing as a "modern" Christian song? I am posing this question because the hymns that some churches consider sacred, and indispensable are also deemed archaic and obsolete by others. Would a Christian song be considered modern if it was penned in the last 10 years? 15 years? What if it was written 20 years ago? Or is it modern if the writer of the song is still living today?
On the other end of the spectrum, when does a song become "un-modern"? Does it become old-fashioned when it was written by a person born in the pre-Billy Graham era? Would it be considered ancient if it uses the King James lyrics?
Humor me. Here's another twist. If the church that produces these songs are considered mega-churches, would they rightfully be called relevant Christian music? Case in point, the global phenomenon known as Hill songs Music. They have been writing, composing, and putting together hundreds of their original songs for the last 20 years. You may have heard a few of them: Power of Your Love, Shout To the Lord, King of Majesty, Mighty To Save, and many more. How do we classify them? Modernly Traditional?
Now, don't get me wrong. I've always loved the hymns. Who could disregard the power of THE OLD RUGGED CROSS? How could someone not feel God's love singing WHEN I SURVEY (THAT WONDROUS CROSS)? I can't even begin to comprehend the awesomeness of AMAZING GRACE!
I am a musician so I love to create recent music all the time, but who can deny the anointing of these "traditional" and time-honored worship songs? Chris Tomlin does it all the time. He combines hymns and puts in a contemporary bridge or coda to the song.
Hmmm. I guess that would be a better word to call it, "contemporary."
In the Webster's Dictionary, contemporary (adjective)
1 living or occurring at the same time
2 belonging to or occurring in the present (i.e. following modern ideas or fashion in style or design)
Aha! Maybe that's it. Maybe relevant Christian music is not dependent on the year the song was written. Maybe its not reliant on the genre. Maybe it doesn't even matter who sang the original version.
Maybe the important thing is that it is a song you are singing for your "contemporaries", a song with a message that hits them straight through the heart, a song that matters to them, a song that they can relate to, a song that they can understand, a song that is RELEVANT to their situation right now.
Traditional Versus Modern = Relevant
That about sums it all up. Believers are looking for relevant Christian music that speaks to them. They want songs that they can sing out, not just because it has a nice melody or a very interesting rhythm pattern, but because it expresses what they are feeling right now.
So, whether it be a hymn written 200 years ago or the latest Christian Billboard Top 40 hit, relevant Christian music should accomplish one thing only, to connect people to God!