If you spend any amount of time in churches that have a notable proportion of people under the age of 40, you’ll hear the genre of music called “modern worship.” The chords are simple, the melodies are exceedingly singable, the sentiments are sincere, and the lyrics are brief.
Like all genres, modern worship has individual examples of real quality, and this week I was in the car singing along with one—Elevation’s 2018 song “Worthy”—that has many merits. I would gladly lead a congregation in it myself, if only to sing this theologically exemplary couplet:
“It was my cross you bore / So I could live in the freedom you died for.”
But as I sang along with the recording, I couldn’t help feeling, not for the first time, that it was incomplete and just a bit thin on its own.
This is not something I feel about a related genre I’ve spent a lot of time studying and, as a worship musician, leading: the choruses of Black Gospel that emerge out of the tradition called…