‘Worship war’: Nice and pretty or bold and full of truth?

A recent NPR article looked at what has been called a "worship war" between contemporary and traditional styles of music in church. The article highlights Keith and Kristyn Getty, who write hymns that they believe break away from the trends of popular praise and worship music.

The problem that the Gettys and others see with popular music is a focus on "commercial aspects of God." The songs may sound pretty and nice, but often they lack a certain depth and reverence. The object then is to attain a meatier song that is still easy to pick up for the people in the pews.

Two points from Keith stand out:

  • He wants their songs to "teach the faith"
  • He believes hymns "should say something bold"

Let's apply these points to the celebration of the Mass. This "worship war" is alive and well within the Catholic Church as well: organs and pianos versus guitars, drums and tambourines, chanting versus more contemporary singing styles … but what about the actual content of the songs?

Regardless of the instruments used to guide the congregation, shouldn't we focus more on what we are actually singing? Music within the liturgy can be a beautiful and powerful form of prayer. So are we bold in our praise? Do we process our beliefs through song? Do we grow our relationship with God by addressing our struggles? Or do we rely on pretty, nice songs that offer little substance?

Jennifer Rey is the web editor of Our Sunday Visitor Publishing.