Hymn Hubub

(GROVE CITY – Pa) – At the beginning of the semester, worship team’s coordinator, Matthew Montgomery, made adjustments to the singing portion of chapel, singing psalms and hymns only, to reflect this semester’s speaker series.

According to junior Noel Elvin, Vesper’s guitar player and singer, at the beginning of the semester Montgomery explained to the chapel worship staff that they would only sing psalms and hymns for the foreseeable future. 

Junior Isaac French, electric guitar player on the Tuesday team and media services employee, however, states that this is a misunderstanding.  According to French, there have been many rumors spreading around campus surrounding chapel, none of which he has heard from the chapel staff.  “We are only singing psalms and hymns this semester on Tuesdays as part of the chapel’s psalm series,” said French. 

When asked about this hymn controversy, Montgomery himself agreed with French and explained what is really happening.  “The past month or so we’ve had a series on Tuesdays specifically dedicated to reading the psalms,” he said. “We had T. David Gordon do a series of messages, we had Carl Trueman kick off singing the psalms and then the next portion of the series will be praying the psalms.” 

According to Montgomery all the chapel has been doing is singing psalms on Tuesdays as closely to their original texts as possible in accordance with this semester’s series of the psalms.  “In no way are we replacing contemporary worship at Grove City, this is just a semester series on Tuesdays,” he said.

Nevertheless, this misunderstanding has stirred conversation among the chapel worship team staff.  Due to COVID protocol, chapel is only allowed to sing one song per chapel at the end of the message.  This is to decrease the number of aerosols released into the air while people are in the room. 

“In a world without COVID,” Elvin said, “we would sing both hymns and contemporary songs.  But now we are only singing hymns and psalms.” 

Elvin and French expressed that they are concerned with how singing psalms and hymns only will affect the campus.  “I personally prefer contemporary because those songs from a worship leading standpoint are easier for the congregation to contemplate in the moment when they are singing it,” Elvin said.  “It’s important for them to make the worship easy enough to comprehend in the moment so that they can connect with God.  Hymns are more complicated.”

French agrees stating, “There’s value in singing the psalms, but I don’t think we should do it every week to a congregation that may not be able to worship to it.”  Both Elvin and French state that as worship leaders, leading the congregation in hymns is more difficult than leading them in contemporary songs. 

On the other hand, Montgomery states there is benefit in having this chapel series.  “The lyrical content of what we sing is so important because we learn from what we sing,” he said.  “All of our songs should be ‘accessible’ intellectually, but they also need to challenge us.”

Another chapel staffer also thinks that singing psalms every Tuesday for this series is a good idea.  Sophomore Hannah Struble, singer for one of the Tuesday worship teams states, “The whole point of worship is to praise God,” she said, “so we should be praising God in our singing rather than changing it so that it’s understandable to certain people.”

In the end, Montgomery and all of chapel staff believe that chapel should have both types of worship.  “We should be singing a balance of songs” Montgomery says, “that are both easily accessible in the moment, but also songs that aim to convey the deep truths and riches of the gospel.” 

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