As Long as We’re Voting


What is your favorite hymn of all time?

What is your favorite contemporary worship song?

One night, driving back to Nashville from a Write about Jesus songwriting conference in St, Louis, Tony Wood, Wendy Wills, and I spent four hours discussing – and singing – our favorite hymns. It was a blast.

So, I got to thinking, since everybody is already in voting mode today, why not take a moment to vote again?

And here’s the best part. These votes are just for fun.

Of course the discussion of hymns vs. worship choruses can be just as polarizing as our current election season has been.

A little background…

Musical styles in church have been a source of much heated debate over the last twenty years or so due to the rise in popularity of the worship choruses. Congregations have turned themselves into pretzels trying to please everyone, adding extra services simply to accommodate musical preferences.

“We won’t sing anything unless the composer has been dead at least two hundred years,” said a choir director at one Nashville mainline church. He was not kidding.

So much for God doing a new thing.

And by now most Christians are familiar with the disparaging label “7-11” which has been applied to describe contemporary worship music. The explanation for this nickname being that worship choruses use the same seven words over and over and sing the phrases eleven times in a row.

A friend of mine actually penned a parody where he sang,

“Holy, Holy, Holy.

Holy, Holy, Holy.

Holy, Holy, Moly!

Our God is the gaudiest God.”


Of course there are those who find the old hymns, well…old.

They often contain language that seems archaic to our ear. What on earth, for example, does it mean to sing, “Now I raise my ebenezer!” in 2016?

Others don’t care for all the blood language. Are you washed in the blood? There is power in the blood. There is a fountain filled with blood. Nothing but the blood.

It all sounds a little gory to some folks.

Hymns are usually in stanza form, having no chorus, so they are more difficult for people to learn quickly. They also tend to have broader ranges, which can often leave one struggling to sing along. Either the high notes are too high or the low notes are too low.

And of course the instrumentation is quite different. Though they can be played on any instrument many mainline churches still use an organ as the accompaniment. No drums, no electric guitars, no electric bass.

I don’t like poorly written worship songs and there are plenty of them. I also don’t like un-singable hymns and there are plenty of those as well.

I am a fan of excellence.

I have had the privilege of leading congregational singing with both hymns and contemporary songs. Either style of music has the potential to lead someone into a deeper communion with the Holy Spirit.

So, whaddaya say? Can we all come together? Can we find some common ground?

The purpose of my asking people to vote today is to see if we might be able to introduce some of the great hymns to people who have never heard them before. And, conversely, to encourage others to check out a contemporary worship song they may have never heard before.

It’s time to vote:

What is your favorite hymn of all time?

What is your favorite contemporary worship song?

Vote in either category or in both.

And let’s remember, our relationship in community with one another as followers of Jesus Christ will always be more important than what style of music we sing.