Friday, April 15, 2011

Some Thoughts on Music and Trends in Worship

If you are following my latest posts you see a trend here.  Worship and the forms and music we use in its service lie close to my predominant concerns for the church.  Given this concern I did a bit of 'surfing' on the net to see what others thought on this matter.  What follows is a reflection on this and other thoughts.
  • Is music style a neutral issue?  One blogger noted: "There’s nothing inherently profane about rap, hip hop, country and western, or any other style of music."  I respectfully disagree.  I listen to a lot of the newer styles that my son enjoys, so I believe I am not yet completely out of touch.  Many of the styles this author notes evoke emotions and reactions quite foreign to the spirit of worship, especially Hebrews 12:28 which reminds us: "let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe...." I fail to see how rap and hip hop can convey any sense of holy reverence.  Anyone who listens to such music knows that its primary intention is quite different.  Given our culture can we hope to effectively divorce musical styles from the way they are used?  Hardly.  If you doubt this just try singing something sacred to a tune such as the theme song from "Gilligan's Island." 
  • This same blogger also talks about "an emotional attraction and power [people] do not experience with traditional church music."  Emotion is the bane of worship music in our time.  We value emotion in such a way as to place it virtually on par with faith itself.  At the conference this week one of the participants talked extensively about the need to tap into this area, especially for the younger crowd.  He made note of the old worn out idea that we are too head oriented and not sufficiently heart oriented.  The dichotomy is false and misleading.  Emotions vacillate wildly and thus remain very unpredictable measures of faith.  When we serve emotion we ultimately must sacrifice truth.  
  • Another site writes:  "Change will happen anyway, with or without us;  it is a fact.  Instead of refusing change and thus provoking revolt, we should become part of it, and make it happen in a responsible manner."  In a similar vein the oldest living American who recently died encouraged people to embrace change, even when change slaps you in the face.  "Every change is good," he said.  Not true.  Many changes, especially in the last few decades, have been disgraceful and revolting, particularly in the area of sexual freedom and experimentation.  Not all change is good.  This goes as well for changes in worship.  Many changes now occurring are jettisoning our valued traditions and leaving behind the collective wisdom of generations.  We are allowing the tastes and preferences of people to dictate our choices, creating a new way of leading by holding a moist finger in the air to see which way the prevailing winds are blowing today.  Some of the changes in worship import a foreign and false theology into our midst attempting to blend Charismatic and Baptistic practice with Lutheran theology.  The mix isn't working and we are eroding our identity and corrupting the faith of future generations.  
These are just a few of my thoughts and I will probably post another post or two along these lines.  Thank you for listening to my thoughts!

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