From old correspondence, on “new” songs

A staff minister in Colorado sent out a “survey” about new songs several years back.  I received it third-hand.  My dad wrote in reply to this youth minister, and I wrote a few weeks later.  Neither of us ever received a reply.

                I am currently serving as campus minister with the _______ Church.  I’m doing a small survey on the topic of worship songs, and I would be very grateful if you could take a few moments to respond with your feedback.

                I am blown away by the sheer number of times the psamist proclaims “sing a new song” in his lyrics.  New songs reveal the dynamic, growing nature of our faith, and can challenge, inspire, and simply provide a new way to celebrate.  But often, I feel that we either sing new songs simply because they’re new, without giving much though to what the songs communicate.  Or we just sing mostly old songs.  As a songwriter, worship leader, and growing follower of Jesus, I believe in a balance of not forgetting the old, but striving towards new (and even improved) expressions of our faith in songs.  What this requires is a dedicated effort by songwriters, leaders, and everyone else, to create songs that are meaningful, that lyrically address relevant issues/emotions, and that display musical excellence.  This is especially needed in many of our communities where singing a cappella, or mixing instruments and the a cappella singing style presents unique challenges, but also profound opportunities for innovation.

                So for now, I am trying to find out what kinds of worship songs we need more of in our worship gatherings.  I know you’ve probably had the feeling of wanting to sing or lead a song that communicates a certain feeling or idea, but you didn’t know of any or many songs that communicate that one thing.  So my question is:

    • What is that one thing?  (i.e., heaven, forgiveness, creation, etc.)
    • What kind of songs do we need more of?
    • Less of?
    • What are we missing?
    • What should we be communicating to God and each other in our corporate times of singing?

                 I would appreciate your feedback on any of these questions, and for that matter on any other relevant ideas or issues that relate to this discussion.  I plan to compile the information I receive and write it up in article form, so let me know if you’d like to read that when it’s done.  If you wish to be placed on an email list that will serve as a discussion forum for these issues, just let me know.  Also, please forward this to anyone you think might be interested in this discussion.  Thanks so much for your time!  May God be glorified and be given the very best we have to give!

What are your thoughts on the above?

As usual, I’m more interested in the content than in the style, and for that reason above others, I appreciate this guy’s questions:  they ask what we are saying (or missing) not how we are saying it.  In the next installments, I will share my own reply and then my father’s.

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