October 20, 2009 / 1:57 PM / 10 years ago

Norway church swaps songs of praise for modern pop

OSLO (Reuters Life!) - A priest has replaced traditional Norwegian church hymns during Sunday mass with pop songs such as U2’s “Sunday, Bloody Sunday” in a bid to renew his church’s message and reach a new audience.

“Some of these modern folk tunes have lyrics with a Christian message, and we can find it in songs from artists such as Lauren Hill, Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash — and U2,” Oslo-based priest Ole Jakob Loeland told Reuters.

“I want to contribute to the church renewing its expression and preaching what is relevant to people,” he said, adding that he viewed this as part of a wider movement within the Norwegian Lutheran state church to keep up with changing attitudes.

Loeland said he had received “overwhelming positive feedback,” but added that “such radical renewal is controversial.” One elderly churchgoer called the pop-song Sunday service “crazy,” television pictures showed.

Reporting by Aasa Christine Stoltz, editing by Paul Casciato

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