I’m not a full time worship pastor, and as such I don’t typically begin the song selection process for the following Sunday until mid-week. But when I do look at the list of possible candidates, I’m frustrated. I would be thrilled if I could find 40 excellent non-hymn songs that are very strong both lyrically and musically – the kind that will still be sung regularly even 10 years from now. But I find only a handful of really solid ones, and I’m not convinced most of those will be around that long.
And I’ve become disillusioned with many hymns. When I started leading worship again last November, for the second time in my life (the first was 4 years ago, lasting 5 months), I felt my “ace in the hole” was the hymns. And since I’m in a small church in a rural community, I figured if we sang 6 songs each week, it would be three hymns and three contemporary songs/hymns.
Upon examining the 50 or so strongest hymns more closely, I’ve discovered many if not most of them have flaws that I hadn’t taken real notice of previously – usually related to the lyrics. Sometimes it works to sing one or two verses of a well known hymn, but the other verses just don’t cut it. Others that I would have assumed we would sing are just not that good when viewed objectively.
Of course this is my opinion, not shared by all, but I doubt I’ll change my mind. I certainly hope I come to terms with the repertoire we have to choose from down the road, and I keep searching for new songs that will stick. But I find myself constantly having to compromise when forming the song list for the next Sunday.