The trouble is that the children don't sing that many hymns at school. They learn songs for specific occasions, including, perhaps, less than half-a-dozen actual hymns throughout the year. These tend to be from the Out of the Ark stable written by Mark and Helen Johnson, some of which I think are very good indeed. They're often profound as well as simple, and have good strong tunes, and when possible I do transfer them into the church repertoire ('Hosanna to King Jesus' has made an appearance on Palm Sunday and this Easter Day the 10am mass will culminate with another song). But the other music they're exposed to isn't easily transferable. The head teacher attends an evangelical Anglican church in the south of the county and as the children gather for assembly she commonly plays a worship song from Youtube. Sometimes these are very trad indeed - during Pirate Maths week I found myself listening to 'Eternal Father strong to save' and getting a lump in my throat - but most of the time they are modern and not all that helpful. The other morning it was this, 'This is Amazing Grace' by Paul Wickham:
That's quite nice, I thought, as I sat there, and the lyrics are OK, so I looked it up when I got home. I still thought it was nice, undemanding pop, but I realised I couldn't do anything with it. Not only does it really need a band that includes drums and keyboards and some enthusiastic singers up the front, but I can't imagine anyone really singing it apart from them. The children don't - the worship songs are on in the background, and that's all. Occasionally you can see them swaying or bopping gently in time to the music, whether it's modern or trad, but that's all.
On the occasions I've been to full-scale band-led worship in evangelical churches, it's struck me that the congregation doesn't really sing in the way a traditional one does. What they do is vaguely join in with what the band is doing. They put their hands in the air and follow the words on the screen. They pick up the tune (which is often quite hard to pick up), lose it for a couple of bars, and then pick it up again. They waver around the notes, up and down. However, it doesn't really matter what the congregation does, because the band is leading the liturgy anyway. It's the way you behave at a pop concert, and it's a markedly different experience from singing traditional hymns. The music is really just the framework for your own devotional thoughts. It is - I suggest perhaps provocatively - not very different from the old Mass where the schola sang the plainchant settings and the congregation knelt and counted their beads and let them get on with it. In both cases, the music is a sort of pious miasma that flows around you and shapes your own prayers, rather than you engaging with it very directly. This model of worship works by releasing the attention so that the worshipper can lose themselves in their own thoughts.
In a standard Anglican service, however, everyone is really concentrated on the words. They follow the service in their booklets and the hymns in their hymnbooks. The concentration is part of the meditative process of practising the presence of God. It works, in so far as it does, by focusing attention; it's quite an intellectual business.
I don't think people appreciate this enough, and I didn't until I took part in a bit of evangelical worship a few years ago. This is why thinking that you can simply transplant modern worship songs into trad worship patterns doesn't work, even though there are certainly modern hymns by evangelical musicians which are traditional in form and much easier to incorporate (Stuart Townsend writes a number of these). They're designed for a different sort of experience, an experience not just distinct in form, but in nature.