Modern hymns are rubbish

This is sort of a religion blog / rant (but it will touch on other things). Whilst I suggest it is about Northern Irish culture, for those who object to the misuse of slugger, here is Mick’s email address.I do not like modern hymns. Very many Protestant churches (except Free Presbyterians, Reformed Presbyterians and Independent Methodists) have lots of modern hymns. They are, almost without exception (there are a few exceptions) rubbish. Many seem to involve repeating the same line over and over again, sometimes with men and women singing different parts. Others involve words and music that do not really fit together; it is usually possible for really good singers to sing them and for them to sound good when a soloist sings them. When the folk in the pew try, however; especially those of us trying to stop our small children throwing things over the balcony (we sit upstairs) it is impossible. My personal pet hate, however, is when the writers of the songs cannot even be bothered to make the words rhyme. Rhyming being usually considered a part of sung verse.

There is one thing even worse than new hymns however. That is changing the words of old hymns because the language is “too old”. A few weeks ago in church we sang “Rock of Ages”. Now most will remember this as “Rock of Ages Cleft for me, Let me hide myself in thee”. Clearly the “me” and “thee” rhyme. But no: in the new world order of Presbyterianism the thee has been banished and replaced with you. This clearly does not rhyme; in addition I suspect most people will understand that thee means you (albeit in the singular but that is a different discussion). Finally in the 1970s and 1980s when I was a child and teenager I cannot remember thee being in common usage; yet then it was acceptable in hymns now suddenly it is not.

Of course a lot of this nonsense is driven by some bizarre notion which afflicts many of the mainstream churches that somehow the reason people are not attending their churches is that they sing old fashioned hymns. As if suddenly: if modern hymns were introduced, the churches would be filled to bursting. Cynically I could point out that the churches that are growing, are often those which are more old fashioned.

To broaden this from religion; people often complain that modern pop music is rubbish and it was much better in “The Bygone Days of Yore.” Again this is true but that is because all the absolute dross from the 1960s to 1990s has (thankfully) been long forgotten. Exactly the same is true in hymns. Charles Wesley wrote over 200 hymns; we sing less than 20, presumably the good ones, the others having been consigned to the scrap heap.

There: religious rant over for a week or two anyway apart from a genuine question: Are Roman Catholic churches afflicted with the same (or similar) appalling modern hymns?

This author has not written a biography and will not be writing one.