A constant worry for worship leaders is over-singing a song. It’s a dangerous thing to do. You risk ruining the song forever. Attempts to revive the song some time in the future will be in vain. Look at songs such as “Come, Now is the Time”, or “Lord I Lift Your Name on High”, or “My Jesus, My Saviour”, etc. The list goes on and on.
This seems to be in stark contrast to secular artists. They can go on tour for years playing the same set of songs over and over and people love it! A worship leader feels the need to keep things fresh by introducing new songs frequently into the worship set.
I think that the reason for this (in part) is that our style of worship is always evolving (why?). Look at how song style is completely different today from 10 years ago. How many songs, apart from hymns do you still sing from way-way back?
Not only has the style of song changed, but I think even the content in some way. This is difficult for me to describe but I seem to remember songs being more intimate, personal and deep.
I remember one time (long time ago) I had attempted an old song revival and someone came up to be afterwards to tell me that they felt they could not sing the song. It was too personal and made them feel exposed. I forget what the song was now. I think this type of response is totally fine. Hopefully they left that day thinking, “Why do I find those words hard to sing?”, “What am I going to do about it?”
I think a lot of today’s songs lack some depth. They seem to step back a bit and use words that anyone could sing without knowing Christ intimately. Maybe it’s because there is simply more worship song writers (and songs) now than ever. I don’t want to come across cynical here, but the christian music industry is big business. Perhaps depth is being sacrificed a little to get cds on shelves faster?
I’m not saying we get into the attic and blow the dust off our old worship books. No way! I like the choice we have now. I like the style and how it is evolving. When I’m selecting new music, the words play an important part for me. The melody also needs to be singable. If it’s difficult for the band to play, will the congregation be able to follow it?
Raking my brain for those old songs reminded me of when we used to sing “I love you with the love of the Lord” and the pastor (always) suggested we look around at each other in the room as were singing. This song made me cringe so much as a kid as I tried not to make eye contact with any girls!
So, do songs go stale? Yes they do. Do we need to keep evolving? Yes we do.
(Should we get stressed about it? No.)