Like many evangelical churches, Trinity in Broad Ripple feature a fairly contemporary style in church music; it’s more a reflection of the community and the congregation than a decision to “go contemporary.” As an example, the prelude music is often Sufjan Stevens, an artist unknown to most musically conservative evangelicals who pushes the parameters, especially with his latest offering. (To underscore the point that he is not some 4th rate artist, I note that there are 110,000 searches monthly for him on Google, and he sells in the neighborhood of 3/4 million units for his releases).
The good news is that some Sundays, we sing a lot of hymns, albeit in a contemporary style. Yesterday, for example we sang three hymns and one contemporary song. Two of the three were wedding hymns offered on our website: Be Thou My Vision and All Creatures Of Our God And King.
The even better news is that the style is truly contemporary, natural, and not over-baked or painfully loud. The musicians and congregation are just a few feet apart, but there is never a distraction with the band; I cannot remember a time when anyone seemed to be performing. And none of that silly and distracting “let’s make good eye contact with the congregation” stuff going on. It is truly worshipful, and centered on the Creator, not the creatures.
Make no mistake – my personal preference, in a perfect world, would be to sing “All Creatures Of Our God And King” accompanied by a large choir and orchestra – but the church band does a great job in the style that is clearly the most worshipful for our congregation. That of course should be the primary consideration when choosing a musical style – without alienating some of your people, which musical approach best lends itself to true worship?
a caveat: I believe it appropriate to be creative and to stretch the congregation with unexpected styles and new songs at times.
Be Thou My Vision, on the other hand, lends itself naturally to a great variety of effective musical treatments with the somewhat pentatonic bent of the melody. And it does happen to be one of the top 10 hymns of all time, in my opinion… maybe top three.
For a discussion of wedding hymns and their place in your ceremony, check out this article.