Some [congregations] sing only Gospel hymns—hymns of invitation, hymns of commitment, initial commitment to Christ, hymns that are more suited to the young in faith. They sing the milk of the Gospel. That is essential, but if that’s all one sings, one needs to ask, how do you nurture that young faith? There are some who sing only solid, classic, hymns, hymnody that takes four or eight stanzas of solid theological, systematically well-argued, deep stuff by which, definitely, if you take that material seriously, you can grow. (Music in Christian Worship: At the Service of the Liturgy, Bert F. Polman, 71)
This passage has been sticking with me for the past week, reaching out to me during quiet, thoughtful times and gently but persistently confronting almost three decades of personal perceptions about music in the church. I’ve never before been introduced to the idea that, just as different music is suited to different times of the liturgical year, there are different songs that speak to us at different points in our spiritual life, beyond the changing tides of fashion and specifics of personal taste. Yet, as soon as I read this, it made complete sense and almost immediately began to transform my thoughts on church music, especially of music that I didn’t particularly connect with in worship.
What, then, does this mean for the leaders and musicians of the church, who are charged with faithfully and responsibly choosing music for the worshipping congregation?