Reviving Classic Hymns Part 1 of 3

Something that can add a lot of value to leading worship are to use classic hymns.  For those who grew up in the church, these hymns and the memories associated with them come rushing back when singing them and you are immediately engaged and participating.  For those who did not grow up with classic hymns being sung, these hymns often contain a level of lyrical depth that can reveal new understanding of God.

Using these classic hymns in a modern setting can be intimidating, because we equate hymns with organs, choirs, or simply a more traditional church setting.  So we either don't feel worthy or equipped to use them!   But again, they can be an enriching addition to any time of worship.  So I've compiled a list of some tips that I've found useful in reviving the classic hymns.  This will be part 1 of a 3 part series:

1. Simplify the arrangement- with a lot of hymns, once you start diving into adapting them for a modern setting, you'll find that you can simplify the arrangements (specifically the chord structure) to suit a more modern sensibility.  The classic hymns sound intimidating musically because the instrumentation is playing the each melody and harmony note.  But once you simplify it you'll be able to pick a more simplistic chord structure suited for any modern worship band!

2. Simplify the instrumentation- stripping away a lot of the instrumentation to just a simple piano or acoustic instrumentation not only removes the barriers of no organ/choir/orchestra common to modern worship, but it often can help the words to stand out even more.  Additionally, when members of the congregation grew up with these hymns, they often will immediately start joining in at the top of their lungs, and having a more scaled back instrumentation makes for an incredible moment to hear the congregation singing loud!

3. Slowing down the tempo- so often adjusting the tempo to a slower, more moderate pace, allows for a little more breathing room in the arrangement which again helps with making the lyrics stand out, and helps modernize the arrangement.

Stay tuned for parts 2 and 3!