I was just pondering the demise of the hymn book from many churches, including the one that I attend. It has been replaced by the overhead projector or presentation systems. I wonder if the apparent advantages seriously outweigh the detrimental effect that this wholehearted embracing of technology is having. Gone are the days when you could ponder the words of the hymn you had just sung, by keeping your hymn book open and rereading it. The impact of the words can be lost, or greatly lessened, if you have no access to the words. It is no longer possible to meditate on a hymn during the offering, or the Lord’s Supper. I have always found this practice a helpful aid to prayer.
Could it be that we have almost come to treat our singing of God’s praises with his people as little more than a “sanctified” karaoke? The words appear on screen and we simply sing along. Once we’re finished singing, the words leave little impact on our minds. Without access to them in print, at the time, what little impact they might have had is completely lost.
So, bring back the hymn book. We might sing less new songs as a result, but that would surely be a small price to pay for a richer, deeper praise. Our worship would be the more glorifying to God for being more thoughtful, and more edifying to ourselves for engaging our minds the more completely.