Minister's Thoughts - Church Music





The Issue

Ilkley Baptist Church serves a community with a high proportion of elderly churchgoers. Our attendance has been good because people like the style of service we offer.  We need to continue to provide a place of worship that people are comfortable coming to.

We currently use 'Baptist Praise and Worship' in our services.  This book was introduced in 1991, so has been a standard in this church for a quarter of a century.  Unfortunately, there are probably over 200 hymns in this book that have never been sung at this church.  Many are, to put it simply, just too old to be known.  The rationale for publishing the hymn book is stated in its' preface: "The Trustees recognised the danger of churches using only those books which reflected their own particular convictions, and so depriving themselves of being stretched and challenged."  It is my belief that Baptist Praise and Worship, used alone, now meets the category of hymn book that it was introduced to replace.

An alternative to Baptist Praise and Worship is the 'Mission Praise' hymn book.  This book was first published before Baptist Praise and Worship, making it older, but in many ways Mission Praise is far more modern in outlook.  Despite what some people think, it is not just new songs that are included - there are many Wesleyan classics that are not in Baptist Praise and Worship.  The advantage of this book is that it has over 1,300 hymns and songs that we can use, in addition to those that are in Baptist Praise and Worship. 



Church attendance is crucial to personal development in faith.  The most likely person to attend Ilkley Baptist Church is probably someone who has recently retired.  The problem we have now, is that the type of person who is now retiring is no longer the person brought up in the Baptist Hymns of the 1960's (and before), but someone who was brought up (like me) singing songs by Graham Kendrick and Noel Richards.  If you are just 10 years younger than me, you are far more familiar with the worship songs of Hillsong, Matt Redman, Keith Getty and Stuart Townend.  They just don't feature enough in Baptist Praise and Worship.



Don't panic!  Sheila, on the organ, is not going to be replaced by a four piece electro rock band, with loud guitars.  What I feel needs to happen is that we need to experiment a little in the next few months, and try to use one or two more modern songs each week in our worship services.  Let us all give it a try - we might like it!


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