I love the contemporary worship music that is the main staple at the church we go to. One of my favorites is “These are the days of Elijah.” I cry everytime we sing it, though for different reasons. Today it was because “time of famine and darkness and sword” and I thought of the impending war in Iraq.
But I grew up on the old hymns. I sang them all my growing up years. My family sang on long trips in the car. (Too poor for a radio mostly.) We would sing one hymn after the other, doing free word associations with them to keep the music flowing.
I actually like the old hymns. I like them for their meanings, for their history, for my history with them. “I'll fly away” was my grama's favorite. “Up from the grave” was my brother's, before he became an atheist. “The Old Rugged Cross” was the first hymn I ever heard with instrumental music. (I grew up in the church of Christ which does not have instruments in worship music.)
My two sons are in double digit ages and they have never, to my knowledge, heard any of those songs, unless it was me singing them around the house. They just don't know them. They have never sung them in church. My husband doesn't like to sing on trips, so they didn't hear them there.
It's a little strange, perhaps. But I am sad. “The Old Rugged Cross,” unless I remember incorrectly, was one of the first hymns in the English language. My kids are missing a centuries old tradition. I don't think hymns will completely go away, although they might. But my children's generation will be the first one I know of who hasn't learned the old songs.