This topic would probably take several thousand words to delve into deeply, but this picture takes care of a thousand or so.
“Modern” certainly means “more modern than Handel”, but for many people, Woody Guthrie is just as culturally foreign as Josquin des Prez. I don’t know where the stylistic cutoff line is, but seven rounds of verse/chorus probably falls on the wrong side.
If “Turn Turn Turn” had a bridge, for example, it would work better stylistically for today’s listeners. But – admit it – the song drags on interminably, and if you don’t have a chimey 12-string adding sparkle, it’s no better than droning “A Mighty Fortress”. (Actually, I have an electric 12-string, and still couldn’t bring it alive.)
Don’t think a song will work just because it was written after 1960. It ain’t necessarily so.
Boomers seem to be in charge in many congregations, so Boomers beware! Your tastes are not universal!This applies equally to any generation, of course. We have to really listen to the music and try to separate our emotional responses, personal history with the song, etc. from its intrinsic interest and its applicability to worship.
The corollary to this is that we should be listening to music we’re not automatically comfortable with with open ears, ready to hear something that works, even if it’s not something we’d listen to ourseslves. Reggae, hip-hop, metal, emo, Christian pop – all these genres have songs that will speak to someone in a deep way, though we might change stations if they came on the car radio. Sometimes suffering through a half hour of crap on the radio will yield a gem for your worship.
But don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. There are some times when “Big Yellow Taxi” or “Turn Turn Turn” are just what’s needed. But if they turn into inviolable traditions in their own rights, then we have just replicated the problem we’re trying to solve.