I was having a discussion with our Senior pastor this am. He made the comment " the new songs we sing, are becoming more and more complicated" His point was, its hard to remember the lyrics and sing along. He was wondering if it made sense to mix in some updated older songs? Simple songs, easy to remember. 

What do you think ?

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I wouldn't really say all new worship songs are to complicated, i mean as people have been saying, it is up to the worship leader to decided/see what songs work in their congregation and don't work. I agree some songs like stuff from the new hillsong united album "zion" are to complicated for a lot of church's but they are still indeed awesome songs. I think the worship scene at the moment is at its best and you are always going to get bands/artists experimenting with different sounds, instruments and sometimes vocal patterns but i bet when you strip back the songs, they are just as easy and awesome to sing as the older stuff. I know worship central have defo designed their new album to have songs that can be played and sung in totally different ways, whether is full blown like on the album or stripped back with just a piano or a guitar.

But no i wouldn't say overall worship music is too complicated, i mean its not exactly progressive metal just yet lol. 

I was taught that I should get to know the congregation or group I am working with on each occasion and choose songs that THEY liked and that lead them into worship. New songs are great but they always have to work for the congregation no matter if I like or dislike them. So some complicated songs might work for some groups and not others. Get to know the congregation and work where they are at, gauge their responses be it good, bad or indifferent. Let that be your guide not completely of course songs must be appropriate and have sound doctrine as well.

Funny you should mention this -- I just posted in another discussion YES!  Prime example -- the song in question was "How He Loves".  Great song for the radio, but a disaster for a congregation to learn to sing.  The songs don't necessarily have to be "old".  They just need to be easy for a Congregation to "pick up" and learn rather quickly, which most of them are not.  In my opinion, the majority of songs churches sing now as "worship songs" are actually "performance songs" -- songs that should be used for a "special music" slot. 

I was in New Zealand for a conference several years ago, and was excited about visiting a congregation on the South Island while I was there.  Imagine how disheartening it was to sit in a congregation clear on the other side of the world and find myself singing Chris Tomlin and Matt Redmond songs.  Now, don't get me wrong -- both of them have some wonderful songs.  But, there seems to be something wrong with the processed, "cookie-cutter" worship environment that has been created.   It's like going to any "other" city in America and finding on "main street" the same stores and restaurant chains in my own.  There isn't any uniqueness anymore -- it's all processed, and powerless.

Well, my experience with "How He Loves" is that every time I've done it, it goes over so well, and is one of my congregations most favorite songs (they probably sing that one louder than most hymns), despite the fact that it's range is so wide, and melody (particularly on the verses) a little challenging. I think it's because the words are incredibly powerful, and it has such a great story behind it that is fairly well known.

Good point about trying to translate songs from radio to congregation.  

And somewhat funny but sad point about the McDonald's nature of our worship. I guess that's a symptom of the modern age where news (and worship songs) travel fast.

I think it is up to the audience. They will let you know. In a facial expression or an e-mail later that week. haha We have to read people and listen to them. All churches are different. That's why we all have different song lists. More than anything, I hope we take the responsibility seriously when we pick songs for our church family to return lyrics and melodies to our Savior. Let's pick songs with truth embedded in them.

I just noticed that this thread for some reason, not sure I've even spoken up yet.

I actually think the complexity of the songs should be increasing. If I look at a cross section of the most popular modern songs that we sing, the majority are somewhat simple and get old quickly. I think there's a place for "simple" songs - not every song can be thick and deep. But in our current modern catalogue, I think it's time for some more elevated songs. 

This is in direct contrast with our hymnals which are full of super-thick, theological discourses. I can barely sing all of the words in time before the song moves on to the next verse. And the next. And the next. So I'm not in favour of all hymns either. 

I think a balance is in order. I would also like to see more cohesion in the songs - there are often two or three themes that are just thrown together because they rhyme, and there's often no thematic connection between sections. I find this bothersome personally.

Yes, yes a thousand times yes. The average modern worship song is designed to sound great when a Christorock band has decided that the Holy Spirit is just taking far too long to get things going. So they crank up they volume to the point where they cannot actually hear if the congregation are still singing or still in the building come to that. There will be a long and totally pointless intro of chords being strummed, possibly to give the powerpoint opperator time to get the words up, possibly because the bass player missed rehersal, or maybe in a vain attempt to look super spiritual. Then the song starts and just when you think you know where the tune is going, it will take an unexpected detour through a totally unrelated key. Then there will be a pause where you least expect it followed by a sudden rush of words and all so that you really have to buy their CD so that you can learn the songs before Sunday morning or risk looking like a twat.

But wait, there is more. Now we come to the middle eight, that bit where we embark on a different tune because that's what the Beatles did, or was it Oasis? Anyway it is just one more bit for the congregation, (remember them?) to get to grips with. If the band teach it before the service then folks start to feel they are in school and not in church whereas if it goes untaught the congregation stop singing and become what the performer really wanted all along... the audience.

And as for the guitar solo, leave it down the pub mate because we all know you you once had an audition with Blur and only got passed over because you had to go to church on Sundays. We share your pain...litterally!

Suggested oldy to be used this week, 'God's not deaf, no he is alive!'

and let the piano and acoustic guitar carry the song while throwing in a random held note here and there to make it sound like I'm trying something...

I have to confess that resembles my whole approach to electric guitar playing in church. I'm just the icing on the cake so I'm all about adding some spice to the song and supporting rather than dominating. Mind you, we're also playing mainly from books and aren't trying to replicate particular recordings.

Please don't hold back John, do say what you feel.

;-)

I think people get confused about this.  The older songs are not neccessarily simpler but more familiar.  Hynms are old and have been sung for a couple hundred years.  Are the new songs really complex or just too new to be part of our repertoire.  In my experience simple repetition of songs your congregation likes will solve this problem.  Play them until they can sing them without the media guy.

I agree with those who feel there are songs you introduce for the entire church to sing and then songs you leave for others to sing.  However there are some wonderful songs out there the we do want the church be part of so when introducing a new song we don't sing it just one Sunday and move on, we use that new song as our theme song and sing in several weeks back to back and we find by the second week the church is more comfortable with it and by the third week they are just loving it.  We tend to use more familiar songs with the new song we are introducing and just switch out the familiar songs each week.  Also, sometimes when introducing a new song, we have just the team or one person sing the song the first Sunday as a way of introduction and then add the song into the line up after that.

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