Modern Worship Music


#1

As I have been browsing this forum, I’ve noticed a lot of people bashing modern worship music. I believe it is definitely a difference in taste. I attend a church where electric guitars and drums are the norm and the words are projected onto a big screen. And I couldn’t be happier. I have attended pretty much every Christian church under the sun: catholic, episcopal, lutheran, presbyterian, etc etc…I have a lot of trouble getting excited about going to those churches. Worship through music is, for me, the best way for me to express my thankfulness and joy to my Creator. I was wondering had any insight or different views…I’d be interested to see a response!

Thanks!

Devyn


#2

Wesley wrote about 700 hymns; he is remembered for 30 or 40, I would guess. That means that more than 600 of his hymns have not stood the test of time. Why do I mention this? We look at hymns and sacred music from the past and see the best of the best, those that have been preserved because they are very good. We thus have a distorted picture of what was actually produced.

Looking at the contemporary scene, we see everything that is produced. It will be our children and grandchildren who will decide which songs from 2004 will be preserved for the future. We thus see a group of songs that have a much lower average quality, and are tempted to dismiss the genre as a whole.

The second reason why modern music is dismissed by some is the intent behind a lot of it. Congregational singing was designed to assist the Protestant layman to remember teaching. Farmer George sings Lo! He Comes With Clouds Descending in church, and hums it to himself for the rest of the week as he ploughs his field. The very solid (and at times dense) theology contained in the song then works its way into his mind and heart. The singing reinforces the sermon and readings. In my mind, congregational hymn singing was one of the glories of the Protestant tradition. Sadly, more recent music has often (although by no means always) concentrated on expressing feelings. “I want to soar with you like an eagle, I want to dive with you like a sea turtle” seems to be the limit of many of these songs. They are not bad, they are just not deep. They thus contrast poorly with a lot of the older hymns.

I have seen some of the old hymns set to more modern music, and this has encouraged me. Perhaps someone out there has the talent and time to do a bit more of this? A book for music directors that contains solid music that appeals to young people would be a fantastic resource!


#3

the reason some of the modern worship songs might not last the test of time is that some are specifically written for a congregation at a particular time. a friend of mine wrote a number of songs after 9-11 to express the congregations feelings of mourning and yet trust in God.


#4

I think the potential danger with modern music in worship is that it transforms the service into more of an entertainment experience than a reverent tone of worship. From what I have observed, anytime the popular music really becomes a central element there is a tendancy to view the performer to the detriment of the music’s message. Speaking of message, I think that is another good point. As was mentioned earlier, the message of modern music is usually focused on the self and on feelings–neither of these are very trustworthy guides. I recall singing one of these songs and suddenly stopping to examine what I was singing. The theology was utterly wrong, but it had a good beat, so no one seemed to notice. I think modern culture is the problem and not the answer. Church, it seems, needs to be a place of reverence and contemplation, and that’s hard to do with drums beating–at least for me. Best regards…


#5

The thing with the contemporary Christian music is that a lot of times it is hard to participate or sing along if you don’t know the song…especially for anyone about 25 and older. Those people grew up with the old “Catholic” hymns and probably have most of them memorized. And most people that age don’t listen to that stuff on the radio either.

Its a lot easier for younger kids who listen to this stuff more often and have been growing up with it. It also appeals to their taste a lot more and it doesn’t seem “old and hokey.” And, like Bernard Jones said, the new Christian music focuses a lot more on feelings, which is what younger people’s faith is usually based on (until they get older). They just aren’t too interested in the theological stuff.


#6

[quote=Writer]I think the potential danger with modern music in worship is that it transforms the service into more of an entertainment experience than a reverent tone of worship
[/quote]

Another good point. Most of the new Christian music is meant to be played on the radio, not at a Mass. Even if you find stuff that is commonly played in protestant church services, it still may not be reverant enough for a Catholic Mass. Most (but not all) protestant churches don’t worship in the reverant way Catholics do. From my experience, they are much more layed-back and have an “entertainment” quality to them with the music. Actually, all I’ve ever really done at any protestant service is just sit there. Good music, some good preaching, but not a lot of participation…just sitting. But on the up side, they do tend to have nicely padded seats :smiley: . This style of worship would be very foreign to a Catholic who is used to participating in everything.


#7

[quote=funkyhorn]. This style of worship would be very foreign to a Catholic who is used to participating in everything.
[/quote]

On the contrary, I found that I was able to participate less in the catholic church then in my present place of worship. At my church, we are involved in the sermon, and we can share what God’s doing in our lives etc. Our service tends to be more like the early church that you read about in Paul’s letters, which is something that most churches have strayed from.

I also think it is a tragedy if anyone comes to a service to be entertained. We worship God not only because He alone is worthy, but also because its where we find our joy. It’s our purpose. I’m not looking to be entertained.

As for the area of emotion, it IS a dangerous one and should not interfere with worship. John 4:23 says we must worship in Truth.

Concerning the statement about worship music being played on the radio, I think that is an added bonus. I have many worship cds and use them often. They help me to focus and meditate. I often pray through songs.

I would also say that contemporary music is no less reverant than
older music. We take it seriously. I have often seen people on their knees in awe of such an awesome God.

Don’t take this the wrong way, I think hymns are fine and it is completely a matter of preference. Its not the music that matters, it’s the worship.

Thanks for sharing,


#8

One of the problems with a lot of CCM is that it was written to be sung by an *invididual *on a stage or platform, *not *by a group of strangers.

The exception would be the extremely simple “Praise and Worship Choruses.” But even these are often accompanied by an elaborate soundtrack and a “Praise and Worship Team” that sings in 4-8 parts, making it difficult to pick out a melody and join in the song.

Does this mean that CCM is “entertainment?” CCM artists would say, “No, it’s ministry, just like a sermon.”

But this limits the rest of us to sitting back and just listening, rather than joining in with the song. (Unless we are pop/rock singers.) Is this “good” music for Christians, who are attempting to worship Christ corporately, together?

I was born and raised in Protestant, evangelical churches, and saw with dismay that during many of the “Praise and Worship Times” in church services, the individuals would shut out the world (at the request of the Worship leader), close their eyes, and concentrate solely on Jesus.

So what’s wrong with that?

I can stay home and do that. But I can’t sing with a group of brothers and sisters in Christ by myself at home.

When I get together with them to worship, I want to be connected with them, singing with them, looking at them, smiling along with them (or crying with them during really good songs like Holy Holy Holy!).

Singing together is a very “intimate” act. I discovered that recently at a large conference (Protestant). I simply couldn’t join in with all the other 10,000 people in the auditorium. I didn’t know them. They were fellow Christians, but I wasn’t connected with them. (I’m still a little scared of Protestants after what happened to me in a Protestant church.)

I could sit with them and listen to the speaker. But singing with them required me to open myself up, breathe deeply, and let my voice be heard. It was simply too intimate an act to do with a group that I wasn’t sure I trusted.

And when I sing with fellow Christians in my church, I would like to sing songs that were written for corporate worship, not a private soloist with a lot more range and power in his/her voice than me.

It seems that the emphasis nowadays is not so much participation in singing or playing the music. Rather, we sit back and listen to concerts by professionals and we don’t join in unless they ask us to on a particular phrase or chorus. Or we might stand and sway and raise our hands and pray and “worship.” But we don’t necessarily SING along, because the piece is not written to be sung by the “audience,” but by the professionals and their fancy track.

In the past, most “religious” music was written to be sung by a group, the whole congregation. The music had strong melody lines and simple rhythms that even a child could learn with a few repetitions.

Yes, religious “solos” were written, but often within oratorios, which also had “chorus” parts throughout the work. Any singer with a basic knowledge of music could handle the chorus parts, thus allowing many people to participate. I recently read the story of Handel’s “Messiah.” The first “successful” performance of the Messiah was done by a CHILDREN’S CHOIR put together by Handel at a Foundling home! Can you imagine–kids singing the Messiah?!

But kids singing “Newsboys?” I don’t think so.

This is just my opinion, but I think that CCM is very selfish and man-centered. If only one person, or a small group of professionals, can actually sing the music, and all I can do is sit back and “soak it in,” it seems rather exclusive to me.


#9

I’m 20 and appreciate loud, modern day music. But not in church. In church I want to pray, concentrate on something, feel at peace with myself because I am in God’s house. I can’t do or feel these things when drums start pounding throughout the church (and in head for that matter). Recently my sisters were confirmed and the Archbishop was there, of course, and at one point the band started up and he jumped from surprise. I think everyone else did as well…

However, I do very much appreciate the traditional hyms (if it is being played by a piano or organ).


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