Hymnals have been at the heart of Mass for a very long time. Songs like “Taste, and See”, and “Come, O Come, Emmanuel” are now household tunes for many Catholics. However, as Contemporary Christian Music enters some less traditional churches, one begins to wonder: which one is best?
While the newer songs incorporate scripture and old hymns, they are very different. For one, they are enjoyed outside of Mass much more than the usually sung Hymns. Like pop music, they are played on radios, which makes them a good alternative to the lustful, sin-memorializing secular ones. However, they don’t offer the same formality that lies within hymns. To me, contemporary Christian music belongs in small group worship, or in other casual situations. For churches, perhaps the music could be played before or after Mass/service, and enjoyed in the car to and from, unless the church is very into the new style of worship.
Hymns are older, meaningful songs that are used in a formal setting. As in mass, they make for great signals that we are participating in a holy rite, and need to act as such. Having the special music, especially when you don’t often listen to it outside of church, will really help us transition form our usual activity to a beautiful, religious one. On the other hand, some people find the hymns restricting, boring, or even overplayed. My suggestion to churches for this case is to play a wide variety of hymns and rotate the choir to get a very diverse sound. They can also have church members write their own hymns in the old style and play them during small groups, or use them in Mass on special days.
So, which is best for worship? Both, of course! During the time the hymns were written, they were considered modern. Therefore, modern music is akin to the hymns, especially when they are telling about the joys of Christ and worshiping Him. Anything that glorifies God is good, and from above.
How do you feel about these? Let me know in the comments!