A common complaint that I see about hymns is that they are overly complicated musically speaking. The melodies and harmonies are impractical for unskilled musicians and singers. “People need something simple they can pick up easily.” Hence the rise of highly simplistic, repetitive worship tunes.
My question is this: Are they really easier to sing?
Last night I went to a youth gathering, and the band ran through some worship tunes. They actually weren’t terrible as worship tunes go, but what I noticed as I tried to sing along is that the melodies weren’t that memorable. For songs I didn’t know, it would take me a little while even just to grasp the tunes to the point where I could sing along. They didn’t have body to them. They didn’t have movement. They didn’t flow naturally and gracefully. The rhythms were vague. I felt cramped as I sang them. And I can hardly remember a note the morning after.
Now maybe I’m just not putting myself in a beginner’s shoes, but I think songs like “It is Well,” “Amazing Grace,” and “How Great Thou Art” are FAR more singable. The rhythms are more clearly marked out. The melodies are going somewhere definite. They stick in your head. They have character and form.
For me, melodies like that are much easier to sing.
Thoughts from those of you who work in church music?