A Weblog Dedicated to the Discussion of the Christian Faith and 21st Century Life

A Weblog Dedicated to the Discussion of the Christian Faith and 21st Century Life
I do not seek to understand that I may believe, but I believe in order to understand. For this also I believe, –that unless I believed, I should not understand.-- St. Anselm of Canterbury (1033-1109)

Monday, December 01, 2008

Quote of the Day 2008.24

Is it the Style of Music in Worship?

"Music is the glue of a service. From prelude to postlude, usually eight to ten different pieces of music are woven throughout the service liturgy. Music serves multiple purposes in worship; it says what words alone cannot. Music is prayer, praise, lament. Music brings scripture alive, encourages meditation, substantiates the heart of a sermon, brings us into focus and invokes the presence of the Holy Spirit. No wonder contention, disagreement and polarization surround the subject of music in worship."

"We music directors stumble time and time again over the age-old conflicts because we are defined musically by our own upbringing, confined by the tastes of the senior minister of our church, and often restricted by the narrow parameters set by elders and lay leaders. We are still stuck in our trenches in the worship-music battle: Old Guard "O Sacred Head Now Wounded" vs. New Guard "Never Lose the Wonder"; Old Guard "How Great Thou Art" vs. New Guard "Here I Am to Worship"; Old Guard "Wade in the Water" vs. New Guard "Total Praise." We fixate on a particular genre of music and then clamp down, becoming entrenched in the music culture that best fits our personal preferences and musical tastes."

"This warfare has led to organs no longer being placed in new churches--and fewer people knowing how to play the organ. The classically trained music directors who were raised on the Widor Toccata, who long for singers capable of handling Palestrina and Byrd and the opportunity to perform a Bach choral work, are understandably irate and panicked. They feel as if they are outnumbered by proponents of saccharine, theologically reductionist pop praise songs performed on synthesizer keyboards or by rock bands performing concert-style."

"That perspective, of course, is matched by the disgust of churchgoers who are desperate for spiritual connection but haven’t been raised on traditional sacred music. These people are weary of the same old hymns being plunked out on an out-of-tune piano and droned through by the person sitting behind them. They ache for someplace where they can belong and where God can be relevant to their life."

"The struggle is no longer between historic stone chapels in town squares and the megachurches next to shopping malls. The changing tide of music in worship is touching almost every church in the nation."

You can read Lysa Mathis' entire article, "With Heart and Voice," here.


Greg Golden said...

The anger and resentment from both sides of the fence is disheartening and shame-full. Listeners, players and the directors must embrace new and old songs so that both may flourish. It is difficult to fathom such a simple thing dividing so many.

Allan R. Bevere said...


Yes, it is quite sad to see the way people behave in the "worship wars." I find that often it has more to do with what people selfishly want, than what will put more people in the pews by offering an authentics and well-crafted worship experience, regardless of the style.