A friend asked me a few weeks ago about my thoughts on “jazzing” up traditional hymns in church. My thoughts on this are mixed… when it’s done well, it’s great. When it’s not done well, it’s painful. I think the hymn needs to musically lend itself to rock or jazz rhythms, and worship bands need to play the rhythm consistently in each verse. Silent Night is NOT a hymn that works (I’ve heard this attempted in at least four churches) nor is Christ the Lord has Risen Today, Great Is Thy Faithfulness, For the Beauty of the Earth or How Great Thou Art. In my experience, however, when the right hymn is “jazzed up” and the rhythm is played consistently in each verse so a congregation can catch on easily (instead of looking around with confused expressions), the result is fantastic. Gospel hymns are probably the easiest ones to “jazz up” but still need to be done well. Here’s what I mean:
I have probably played this video several hundred times over the past four years, and still can’t get enough. This is the first video I turn to when mopping floors (because dancing while mopping simply makes mopping better), or if I need a pick me up. So my final thoughts on “jazzing” up hymns? Well, if worship music touches us enough on a personal level that we find ourselves turning to it during the mundane tasks of everyday life, then I think it’s partly living out its purpose. That’s a good thing.