Christian Band Member Combines Old and New

Mar 20, 2003 01:50 PM EST

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – College minister and Christian band member Kevin Twit offers a solution to the “worship wars” between traditional verses contemporary style praise. Twit, member of the group “Indelible Grace” presented “neo-hymns,” which captures both the contemporary passion and the traditional insight.

"I want to challenge the idea that we have to lose the church's tradition if we want to be relevant in our age," he said.

Twit said he once saw an antique store sign that summarized his position: "My grandmother saved it, my mother threw it away and now I'm buying it back."

"What I'm seeing from my vantage point working with college students is a real hunger and desire to buy back the tradition that the baby boomers said that we could dispense with," he said.

Twit says hymn lyrics offer elements not seen in other styles, such as meditations on the “paradoxes” of the gospel.

"The gospel is so much bigger than we think, and it's so much more mysterious than we think," he said. "... When you sing a hymn, you actually have four or five minutes to just sit in the mystery."

Alluding to the 18th century hymn by Charles Wesley, “Amazing Love,” Twit said,

"We should never get over that," he said. "That should never cease to amaze us."

Praise songs, Twit said, generally contain one thought repeated several times. While there are times praise songs can and should be used, he said hymns tend to go deeper.

"Hymns tend to actually start somewhere and go somewhere," he said. "They take us through a progression. They will actually allow us to sit in this mystery that the judge of all would suffer death and set his prisoners free."

Twit mentioned a wider range of emotional expressions in hymns.

This is surprising to some, Twit admitted, because churchgoers often relate hymns to dullness and boredom.

But hymns don't simply dwell on the positive, he said. For example, Anne Steele, who lived in the 18th century, wrote a song titled, "Dear Refuge of My Weary Soul" following a series of family deaths and tragedies.

Such songs can help comfort those in the church who are suffering, "They cover this huge range of emotions," he said.

Most importantly, said Twit, hymns remind Christians of the rich history of their faith.

"It's one of the most important reasons we need to keep the hymns -- kids need to know that the church is bigger than their generation, that's it's not faddish," Twit said. "... It's been here and it will [continue to] be here."

"The reason we sing hymns is because they resonated with people and they have gotten a wider hearing."

By Pauline J.