I realize we ended last week with both a Thursday and Friday post about worship music, and this isn’t a worship or music blog, but today’s topic just kinda landed on the doorstep over the weekend…
And I heard a sound from heaven like the roar of rushing waters and like a loud peal of thunder. The sound I heard was like that of harpists playing their harps.
Revelation 14:2 NIV
There has been much talk about what the next wave of Christian music will consist of, and in particular, what the next generation will do with the enormous catalog of modern worship songs it is being handed.
Many idealists would prefer that the next generation simply accept the status quo, and that nothing drastic changes; even though that generation greatly shook up and shattered the paradigm handed it from their parents. However, a simple study of musicology reveals that for the past thousand years (and beyond) every period in music history is a reaction to the period which preceded it.
What follows is my opinion only, but there has to come a point when millennials reject the current styles in either large measure or in some small measure. People who agree with this notion usually say something like:
- There will be an entirely new form
- There will be a return to the hymns
- There will be more of a blended worship approach
- There will be new songs, but a return of four-part harmony
- There will be fewer vertical worships songs and more songs of testimony
- There will be less instrumentation; a minimalist or even acapella aproach
- There will be more interest in Episcopal or Anglican forms; or chants and Taizé
- There will be an emphasis on preaching, and less music, so it won’t really matter
- There will be a decline of congregational participation, and a return to performed solos, choirs, etc.
- There will be a situation where the congregation becomes passive, and music videos are simply watched
But I think a change is already in the works; it’s been happening for a few years now and it consists of
- A rejection of Nashville as the music agenda-setting capital of the Christian world, with the next generation church embracing a more European sound
- A rejection of the guitar as the primary contemporary worship instrument, with worship leaders playing keyboards, especially synthesizers.
(Apologies to Third Day and Big Daddy Weave; et al.)
I believe that nothing expresses this better than the new Hillsong Young and Free album, Youth Revival. I’ve been listening to cuts from this over and over again. It puts a smile on my face. (I’m not 100% sure, but I think it’s also the band I hear at North Point Online before and after the Sunday live service feeds.)
I realize that this opinion may not sit well with Chris Tomlin fans. I’m just sayin’ that if you have a choice between guitar lessons and piano lessons for the kids and you’re a forward-looking parent, I would go with the piano. As a keyboard player who never once got to play at a campfire, I realize the instrument has some limitations, but I think the next generation is looking for something completely different than G, C, Em, D7 or its many variations.
Hillsong Young and Free stand somewhere between Hillsong Kids and Hillsong United. I get the whole Radio Disney thing. Nonetheless, I believe they best represent the change already taking place. I leave you some samples: