Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Old Hymns in New Ways

I've recently been listening to Red Mountain Music (out of Red Mountain Church in Birmingham). They have excellent new arrangements of old hymns. Here they explain their philosophy and answer the question: "Why hymns?"

"This question seems to come up a lot, so I will try to give a brief but thorough answer. First, it is certainly not because we are against any other type of music. Clearly there is a large body of music in the church today, and strong arguments can undoubtedly be made as to the validity of various types and styles of music and texts. At Red Mountain, it is simply that we are overwhelmingly excited about the way hymns have affected our people. We are drawn to hymns because of the impact they have had on our church. Second, I often hear discussion about worship styles being “contemporary”, “traditional”, or “blended.” I believe that I accurately represent my peers when I say that these terms seem vague and poorly defined. For example, many songs considered “contemporary” were written more than 25 years ago. Many of us at Red Mountain feel like we’ve found a perfect blend: traditional text with truly contemporary music. It’s important to add that when we play songs that already have beautiful and familiar melodies, we rarely change them, and we enjoy the original tunes. Examples of this would be songs such as “Come Thou Fount” and “Amazing Grace.” However, many of the hymns we sing do not have familiar music, so we’ve reworked them and, in a sense, re-introduced them to the church. Third, hymns connect us with our past. It is wonderful to think of all the people who have gone before us who have sung these songs. Singing hymns promotes the idea that a Christian is part of a historic family of believers, and they remind us that God’s gospel transcends time and place. Fourth, hymns ring true in a way that many modern songs simply do not. At times, it seems our ancestors had a stronger command of the language than we do. Their words drip with truth and paint pictures of the kingdom that make believers long for heaven. I cannot begin to describe what reading through these old hymnals has done to encourage the spirits of the musicians that play here. We find ourselves continually able to rest in the truth of these great lyrics, always with a sense that we are part of something much bigger than us or our little church. We are excited about this time in the church, and we are thrilled about this music. "

Brian T. Murphy
Red Mountain Music

Their albums are here.