Thinking Out Loud

June 11, 2010

Currently Reading: A Refreshing Look at the Hymns/Choruses Debate

Maybe this will be the last book written on the subject.   It almost seems like old news.   The writer of Why Johnny Can’t Sing Hymns: How Pop Culture Rewrote The Hymnal, David Gordon admits in the introduction that the market has been flooded with books on this topic.

That said — and keep in mind this isn’t a full review — I do feel that Gordon brings something new to the table, and in fact, I think if worship leaders were to read this with an open mind — they would include at least one hymn in each worship set.

But they might not do it with the band, and it wouldn’t be an update as is the case when “When I Survey” becomes “Wonderful Cross.”   It might even involve taking the Midi keyboard and finding the most authentic pipe organ sample you can find.   In fact, it might even involve having some older geezer walk onstage to play the song.

Gordon calls himself a “media ecologist.”   I’m told he defines this in his previous work, Why Johnny Can’t Preach: The Media Have Shaped The Messengers (both are paperbacks from P & R Publishing.)  He’s concerned about the deluge of popular music already bombarding us from a variety of sources.  He then catches or collects observations on things you may have missed:

As Ken Myers has observed, ‘People often play air guitar while listening to rock, but almost no one plays air violin while listening to a violin concerto.’  (from a footnote on page 12)


Gordon feels that the problem in worship leading is not so much the actual songs we choose as the fact that choice necessitates that there are a host of songs we omit. He frames his purpose on page 36:

“…An extremely abbreviated list of the considerations that have caused me to be wary of using contemporary Christian music in worship services at all, to object to its common use, and to zealously oppose its exclusive use…”

It seems rather hard-line, but I think his arguments are quite forceful.   As an advocate of “blended worship,” and therefore already partially converted, I still find myself challenged.

Finding time for reading has been difficult lately.   Plus,  I don’t want to rush through this one.   So more to come…


  1. […] my other blog I mentioned yesterday that I’m reading a book about the role of music in the church.    I agree with the author’s take that much of the music portion of worship has become […]

    Pingback by Balance, Maybe. Mystery, Definitely « Christianity 201 — June 12, 2010 @ 7:13 pm

  2. […] Gordon.   I think the early review I presented was valid as far as it went, and if you missed it, pause now to click back to it; my final conclusions are somewhat […]

    Pingback by Why Johnny Chooses Not To Sing Hymns « Thinking Out Loud — June 17, 2010 @ 9:41 am

  3. […] I had another couple of posts on worship music in light of a recent book, and you can read those here (June 11th) and here (June 17th).  (If you think I’ve gone conservative, rest assured that the author of […]

    Pingback by Worship in the United States vs. Worship in the United Kingdom « Thinking Out Loud — June 24, 2010 @ 6:24 am

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Your Response (Value-Added Comments Only)

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Create a free website or blog at

%d bloggers like this: