Monday, July 7, 2008

Music for Worship

Recently, and truly ever since I have been in a church (quite a while), I have always heard someone have something to say about the music in worship. I remember when the "new" songs were written by the Gaithers! They are pretty much old stand-by's now. I remember several of the dear old church mothers and fathers commenting on how the "new" music did not 'inspire' them or was conducive to worship the way the older, more cherished hymns were.

Since entering ministry, I have heard many of the same types of comments. Actually, most of the comments I have heard generally travel to me through 'others' rather than directly from the horse's mouth. Comments like, "can't we sing some of the older songs, rather than all these 'new' songs" or "what another new song!" Not many times do I hear, "I really like all the new music in worship!" Truthfully, the music we sing in worship is by no means considered 'new' by any standards, most of it written over ten years ago. Keep a car that long and see if you feel it is 'new.'

Recently I read this letter:
"I am no music scholar, but I feel I know appropriate church music when I hear it. Last Sunday's new hymn - if you can call it that - sounded like a sentimental love ballad one would expect to hear crooned in a saloon. If you insist on exposing us to rubbish like this - in God's house! - don't be surprised if many of the faithful look for a new place to worship. The hymns we grew up with are all we need."
And then this letter followed shortly after:
"What is wrong with the inspiring hymns with which we grew up? When I go to church, it is to worship God, not to be distracted with learning a new hymn. Last Sunday's was particularly unnerving. The tune was un-singable and the new harmonies were quite distorting."
Amusing little notes aren't they? Truthfully, I must 'fess up. The first was written in 1863 and the song they were complaining "sounded like a sentimental love ballad one would expect to hear crooned in a saloon" was Just as I Am. The second hymn which was "un-singable and the new harmonies were quite distorting" was What a Friend We Have in Jesus. I found them on Dan Kimball's blog called "Vintage Faith." If you click on the title to this blog you can read his article.

I guess it just goes to show you that people have complained about the music in worship for longer than we care to remember. Maybe if we just stopped to listen to the beautiful words which the writers, inspired by the Holy Spirit, use to minister to people's hearts in ways ordinary spoken words cannot, then we just might accidentally be blessed by this "new music."

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