Do any of you still do traditional hymns in your services?  I have been doing contemporary for many years now and have just been hired as a worship leader at a church that has been doing mostly traditional hymns.  They now want a mix.  What are some good hymns that can be done in a bit more contemporary way?

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We have 50/50 hymns/contemporary songs. It fits into a natural break in our service quite well.

We also do some traditional hymns in a modern style:

Amazing Grace with an added chorus between verses

Come Thou Fount

Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus you can see, we haven't done a lot!

All Hail the Power of Jesus Name

When I Survey (check out the version by Iona - fantastic!)

Immortal, Invisible

Crown Him With Many Crowns

Amazing Love, How Can It Be

These are some we have used. We sing mostly contemporary but I throw in a hymn every once in a while. I've seen a Hal Leonard Hymn Fake Book that might come in handy for you.


I find that most any hymn can be done as a contemporary arrangement...sometimes the language feels odd with a contemporary setting, but ones I find myself doing are:

Take My Life

All Hail The Power Of Jesus Name

How Great Thou Art

Come Thou Fount

The Wonderful Cross

If you have arranging chops it's really not too hard to "contemporize" an old hymn.

Check out the band Ascend the Hill.  The have a whole album of hymns in contemporary style.

Our church loves hymns (Our congregation isn't exactly a young, hip, crowd).  We still have hymnals and we still sing from them.  You can always go online and search for hymns.  Also, listen to Jars of Clay's album "Redemption Songs".  Each song on that album is a contemporary version of a traditional hymn.  

You may want to take caution though about "revamping" the hymns.  Don't revamp them too much that the original melody is completely taken away.  I, personally, wouldn't add trap-set drums to playing hymns either.  A lot of the times Hymns are good just the way they were originally written with no added "flair" (electric guitars, trap-set drums, electric keyboard, etc.).  An acoustic guitar and/or piano is sometimes all you need to play hymns.

 If your congregation is really hard core on their hymns play the organ or at least change the setting on the electric keyboard to organ. ;)

I love hymns that can be done the way Crowder, Tomlin, and Baloche do them.  Also, we throw in a country style hymn now and then.  I'll Fly Away starting with a slow acapella 3 or 4 part harmony them moving into a fast rhythm on vs. 1 is a gas!

I use the following published volume from Word Music for modern arrangements of hymns. Most of them are well-received:

I see this is quite an old discussion but not one I've chipped into before. I wonder how it worked out for Doug (are you still around)?

My take is that contemporary versions of hymns are often a good way to introduce them to new audiences who are used to the modern worship repertoire but deficient in the proven classics. However, for a church that has a strong traditional bias, I would be inclined to leave most of them well alone (perhaps adding a range of 'worship band' instruments in but not trying to rock them up) and look for contemporary songs that can be done in a more hymn-like way.


Yes, this is an old thread, but I wanted to share an article on wrote on Psalms, hymns and spiritual songs and what really is effective worship. It's a good read, especially for those in the old "hymn" battles. :)


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