July 08, 2013
There was a time when hymns were used primarily to drive home the message that came from the pulpit. But then came the praise songs.
The couple came to town to write songs not for individual artists, but for what Keith Getty calls “the congregation.” “Our goal is to write songs that teach the faith, where the congregation is the main thing, and everybody accompanies that,” Keith says.
There’s no definition for what’s a hymn and not a praise song. But Keith Getty says it should be singable without a band and easy for anyone sitting in the pews to pick up. And it should say something bold.
Matt Redman’s song “Our God” is the most popular piece of music in Christian churches today.
That’s according to charts that track congregational singing — yes, there is such a thing.
But approaching the Top 10 is a retro hymn: “In Christ Alone,” co-written by Keith Getty.
“We would say, you know what, this is pretty, and this is nice, but it doesn’t really say much,” Harland says.
While modern hymns are finding an audience, those songs that may not say a whole lot still remain the most popular.
Chris Tomlin’s “How Great Is Our God” is a refrain sung in megachurches worldwide.
Nashville producer Ed Cash collaborated on the song and says he laughed out loud the first time he heard a rough draft.
“I remember thinking, you know, that’s exactly the simple kind of brainless praise-chorus things that drive me crazy,” Cash says. But Cash has had a conversion to the praise chorus.
He now says you shouldn’t complicate the message.
“You know, for some people, singing a simple, seven-word, simple chorus, draws them into the presence of God,” he says.
“And to me, ultimately, what is the goal of worship music? It’s to exalt God.”