Traditional hymns ‘dying’


Churches are shunning traditional hymns in favour of more modern songs backed with guitars and bands.

A world-wide lack of organists and pianists is partly to blame for the shift to guitar-backed music, but churches are also changing to appeal to newer tastes.

Retired Nelson church organist and teacher Alan K Gray said churches were struggling to attract younger people with traditional music and many were shifting to more modern songs of worship.

“The hymn book is dying out and getting replaced by a band.”

Royal School of Church Music president Paul Ellis said churches were struggling to attract trained organists.

“I think it [band music] is the fashion. People think that by having different music you might attract more people to the church.”

Electric keyboards are used widely in churches now as many struggle to find organists.

Ellis said that new worship music was more suited to pianos rather than traditional instruments, like the organ, although older congregations preferred the traditional style.

Auckland Organist Association organist co-ordinator Walter Nicholls said the ageing population of organists was a serious crisis and that a lack of younger musicians to replace them could spell the end for the organ in church music.

“Small suburban churches may have a pipe organ but no one to play it, or if they do they’re 70. We have incredibly good organists but they tend to get to a point around finishing school where they decide not to continue.”


Additional reading

News category: New Zealand.

Tags: ,