Friday, August 21, 2015

Obligatory Old Fuddy Post About Youngsters And Their Rock And Roll Music

As I get older I find less and less to be appealing with the obsession of deafening music when the church gathers. We haven't been to anything approximating a "contemporary worship service" for a very long time except for a friend's installation service and my wife and I both remarked to one another afterward that it was so loud that it drowned out the sound of the congregation singing. Now when you go to a rock concert (and yes I have been to some, back in the hard rock hair band 80's when I saw Ratt and Cinderella in concert and was deaf for two days afterward.) you certainly might be singing along but you aren't there to hear yourself and those around you sing. You are there to see and hear the musician. In church we should be singing together as the Body of Christ, not trying to be heard over the deafening music. Like everything we do in the gathered Body, it should be marked by mutuality across the Body, not a performance by one or a few up front.

I have to say that while I think some of the really rigid groups when it comes to not having instruments accompany congregational singing are a bit kookie and are doing a lot of swallowing camels and straining gnats, especially the exclusive Psalmody people, but in general the less accompaniment the better for me. Perhaps a piano or an acoustic guitar but I like singing when the only thing you hear is the followers of the Lamb singing praises to His holy Name. This is the sort of music I am talking about from the Shenandoah Christian Music Camp, very similar in style as well as dress to the Anabaptist fellowship we semi-regularly fellowship with:

Notice what is missing. No smoke machines. No disco lights. No interpretative dance or holy mimes on stage. Actually more jarring, no instruments, not guitars or even a piano. I wonder how many church goers comfortable with "praise and worship" music would not be able to "worship" to that? I am not saying that you can't or ought not have musical instruments and many people really like them but for me, much as I sort of like being drowned out as I am terribly self-conscious of how badly I sing, I like to hear the voices of the brothers and sisters around me. It might not be the highest production value but the true value of congregational singing is in the heart of those who sing, not the quality of the performance.

1 comment:

dle said...

It was the Roman Catholics in the 1960s who introduced a lot of the contemporary worship styles and musical forms we see and sing today. In the late 1980s, Vineyard Churches built on that foundation and took P&W music to another level.

What distinguishes those predecessors from the worship music of today is that yesteryear's songs had a follow-able melody you could sing, which made them memorable. I find too many of today's worship songs can never be "owned" by people because they aren't memorable. The lyrics often don't rhyme, which makes memorization harder, and the melodies lack everything you expect from a catchy tune. Rhythm predominates, and that doesn't help you learn the song either.