Complaints about the New Worship Songs

Dan Kimball shares a couple letters from church members complaining about the song selection and music in church.

Letter #1:

I am no music scholar, but I feel I know appropriate church music when I hear it. Last Sunday’s new hymn – if you can call it that – sounded like a sentimental love ballad one would expect to hear crooned in a saloon. If you insist on exposing us to rubbish like this – in God’s house! – don’t be surprised if many of the faithful look for a new place to worship. The hymns we grew up with are all we need.

Letter #2:

What is wrong with the inspiring hymns with which we grew up? When I go to church, it is to worship God, not to be distracted with learning a new hymn. Last Sunday’s was particularly unnerving. The tune was un-singable and the new harmonies were quite distorting.

The first letter was written in 1863 about the hymn “Just As I Am.” The second letter was written in 1890 about the hymn “What A Friend We Have In Jesus.” Hmmm, the more things change, the more they remain the same.

What do you think about the changing musical styles in church?

HT: Monday Morning Insight


  1. 1. Every hymn we’ve ever sung was a new hymn at one point or other.

    2. Neither of those 2 hymns jazz me for congregational worship either, but I’m thinking there’s some knee-jerk sentimentality going on there.


  2. Sharon Gamble says:

    That is exactly why we need variety! I LOVE those two hymns! They touch and move me. However, if all we sang were the sentimental kind I liked…people like Gunny would not have as much joy in their worship. So, the best thing to do is to tolerate a wide variety of styles so that everyone, when they come together to worship, finds something that helps them uniquely worship with songs that resonate 🙂 As long as the words point to the Lord, I guess we should all sing with gusto — the ones we love and the ones we don’t. Here’s to uniqueness and different tastes and one marvelous God to whom we sing!

  3. Barrie says:

    Sharon, I agree with your comment on those two hymns. I believe that we are singing to God and as long as it honors and praises him then it is appropriate. Unfortunately, sometimes people forget that the singing and the music played during a church service is supposed to be for God’s great Glory and Praise and not entertainment. I do not have a singing voice like my wife but I do sing out because I am praising God and He knows my heart.

  4. I concur with the benefits of variety. Ours is a blended service, so I like to say that nobody gets a monopoly on the things they like.

    Of course, that’s tongue in cheek. The key is what jazzes the Lord. There’s nothing wrong with preferences, but we must remember they are just that.

    Just because it’s old, don’t make it good. Likewise, just because it’s old, don’t make it bad.

  5. Norma says:

    Our young people were giving testimonies about a retreat they
    had attended with lots of worship songs.

    One girl said that when they sang over and over and OVER how much
    ‘I worship YOU’, she stopped singing because it made her feel
    like a hypocrit.

    The ones that glorify HIM are the ones that will last.

  6. Bethany says:

    I was startled in church yesterday when a saxophone (new instrument to our church) began to wail a plaintive blues intro. Not my personal favorite music style and I thought “Why are we doing this in church?” Yet it led into “Mercy, Mercy”. Its powerful mournfulness emphasized how we in our human condition so desperately need mercy and helped the words come alive. I’m thankful to whomever decided to step outside the box on this one and regret my first negative reaction.

  7. Susan says:

    You would be really startled at my home church – we have a synthesizer! ( So, what is “appropriate” music for church? Are we all alike – do we all like the same styles and modes? I think whatever music is played, the purpose is for worship to the Creator who created music in the first place. Do you realize that most hymns were at one time Bar songs? I couldn’t believe it at first. They were familiar tunes to unchurched and they just changed the words. It beckoned the lost to come and find out what God has in store for them. I would never want my “comfort zone” to get in the way of finding ways to reach the lost. If I am in church to feel comfortable then I might as well stay home. Our church has grown from 30 people to just over 8,000 in 10 years. Our pastor has always said that he will do anything short of sin to bring the lost to know Jesus Christ. And although my Christian life is not entirely based on church, I firmly believe that God has blessed what is going on there. We have had an electric violin, a harp, we always have our worship band – electric guitars, drums, electric keyboards, a bucket brigade (kids playing buckets as drums – HIGHLY talented) creative dance…. I LOVE IT! I want to Think outside the box we tend to put God in. I mean – He is the Creator of the Universe! Who said he only like solemn hymns?

  8. Joshua says:

    Could I please have the source of this information? Could not find any info on this subject prior to this post. But, has been reference a numerous times since. Thanks!

  9. Ray Fowler says:

    Dan Kimball posted both letters on his Vintage Faith blog back in July of 2008. Unfortunately, that post is no longer available. He shares the first letter again on page 122 of his 2012 book, Adventures in Churchland. The footnote reference says: “From a sermon Nicky Gumble gave on evangelism at Alpha Conference in 2008.” (Note: the correct spelling for Nicky’s last name is actually Gumbel, not Gumble) I don’t know where Nicky got them from, but here is his Twitter account if you want to ask him. If you find out, please come back here and let the rest of us know! Thanks, Ray

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