John MacArthur has a great chapter in his book about the failings of modern Christian music.
I enjoy contemporary worship but it is never as deep and spiritual (in my opinion) as a service filled with hymns.
Am I an old fogie at age 37?
Some thoughts from a 22
1. It's HARD to make generalities. What we tend to think of as "hymns" are, in fact, CLASSICS - contemporary songs of the past that "survived" and became widely embraced. It's hard to know what songs of the past 10 years or so will eventually become traditional Christian songs, ie Classics. I have some ideas: Above All, etc.
2. I grew up in the church and so I grew up with classic hymns. And my spirituality is - to some extent - intertwined and expressed by them, thus they have "value" to me. INTERESTINGLY, some of these are a part of Contemporary worship, too, since life-long Christians like me are "connected" to these songs. Amazing Grace, Beautiful Savior, Come Thou Fount, Crown Him with Many Crowns, Great is Thy Faithfulness, Rock of Ages, What a Friend, and of course, a whole bunch of Christmas carols. There are "contemporary songs" now classics: Lift High the Cross, Sent Forth for example.
3. I like several of the newer, "contermporary" songs, as well. I realize - many are theologically very shallow and often very ME oriented - "I
this" and "I
that" (signs of the times - such is generally SADLY true in contemporary Christianity) - but then MANY old hymns are aweful, too (but then, most of them have simply dropped out of use). "In the Garden" and some others come to mind. There's nothing NEW about weak or bad lyrics.
4. I think what often appeals to people is not the words but the tunes and styles. For those that grew up with hymns, organs and choirs (and thus, whose spiritually "connects" to that) or just those that grew up with traditional musics (maybe taking piano lessons), the "traditional" stuff is often well embraced. For those that grew up with pop, rock and country music, the more contemporary things just seem more interesting, more engaging, and more "them." I like the RARE times artists take GOOD hymns and re-work them in a contemporary style.
5. Music is just a POWERFUL, POWERFUL spiritual tool. Luther is often quoted as noting that he "coveted" the church musician (which he, of course, was). I don't remember the exact quote but it's something like, "When I preach - the message is heard once and quickly forgotten. When we sing - the message is repeated to ourselves over and over and never forgotten." My pastor once served as a hospital chaplain and commented one time that he often used hymns when ministering to patients, he was amazed how often people would remember maybe some Sunday School song they learned 60-70 years ago, and now found in it great comfort.
In ALL music, Soli Deo Gloria!