This Sunday we sang not one, but two of my favorite hymns, both oldies but goodies: O Come, O Come, Emmanuel and Soul, Adorn Thyself With Gladness. (The latter sung to a tune called "Schmuecke dich" -- fun to say, and the music is a pleasure to sing.) For the past few weeks now I notice we've had some of the venerable hymns familiar to cradle Lutherans interspersed with newer additions to our hymnal. And people are liking it...minor chords, solemn tempos and all. They belt 'em out. At one point, surprised by the sound of my own often anemic voice, I looked around to see other enthusiastically singing parishoners looking around too, in what seemed to be genuine surprise: Do we really sound like this? Wow.
You know those T-shirts that say "Art Can't Hurt You"? Here is my shocking proposition, directed to church music directors everywhere: Minor chords can't hurt you. The folks in the pews aren't going to melt, or stampede en masse, if you play them once in awhile. Don't get me wrong: I enjoy the broadening of our hymnody to include newer hymns and hymns from other cultures. But please don't forget the great old hymns of our tradition. They deserve to be sung.