In May, there was a very interesting blog post by Fr. Robert Hendrickson in the Episcopal Church, about the possibilities of a new hymnal in their denomination. His post is called “Don’t Do It for the Kids: Of Hymnal Revision and Young Adults” and I highly recommend that you read it, as well as the numerous comments which follow.
Now, before the Evangelical Lutheran Worship hymnal was published in 2006, we in the Lutheran church used the Lutheran Book of Worship (1978). Our Episcopalian brothers and sisters last had a new hymnal in 1982, so I guess the thinking is that they are due for a new one.
Fr. Hendrickson points to a study among young adults about the possibilities of a revision of Hymnal 1982, and the most surprising result to them was that “The group that was most resistant to the idea of revising the hymnal are those under 29 years of age. They are the most resistant by a large percentage. . . Middle-aged Episcopalians are more supportive of revision than younger and older Episcopalians.”
This goes way against the belief by some church leaders that the only way to attract young people is through contemporary music. But as we learned at the ALCM conference in Thousand Oaks in July, the people who are attracted to so-called contemporary or informal music are aging baby boomers, not the under-30 crowd.
Fr. Hendrickson quotes one 22-year-old: “I think there is a huge assumption made that the younger generation wants guitar- and piano-based praise and worship music. …What we want to hear in a Sunday Eucharist are the classic hymns played on organ. And occasionally we want to chant. Church is the one place where our musical taste is not based upon fad, but instead links us with a much more important, more elegant tradition. If I wanted to listen to acoustic guitar and piano, I’d pick up Dave Matthews or Ben Folds. If I wanted rap, I’d listen to Lil Wayne. …For worship, I want music that connects to me a world outside of the in and out of my daily life.”
Hooray for organ music!