Singing modern music vs hymns in church

Discussion in 'Sacred Music' started by Ananias, Dec 15, 2020.

  1. Ananias

    Ananias Active Member Anglican

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    Original piece can be found here.

    My beef with modern church music is not so much that it's heretical (though a lot of it is) but that it's terrible. Bland, forgettable, treacly, and written at about the third-grade level. I will freely grant that I am a curmudgeon about this, but modern church music -- and by "modern" I mean pretty much anything since the 1960's -- is almost universally terrible.

    The problem arises from the fact that musicians and composers are no longer trained as their ancestors were, I think (either musically or theologically). Human history will only ever have one Palestrina and one J. S. Bach, but surely we can at least aspire to do better. I'd like to see churches oversee their music directors more closely. Church music should be chosen as carefully as sermon topics, and with as much attention to gospel truth. (I'm past being surprised at the heresy in music from, e.g., Bethel; but I do object to it being propagated in my church.)

    It's no accident that Katy Perry used "Christian pop" as a springboard into mainstream pop -- many young performers see the Christian audience as an easy and profitable avenue into the entertainment business. And Christian standards for doctrinaire music are (apparently) appallingly low.

    Honestly, I'd like to see orchestral/instrumental and choral music take the lead in churches again. Anglican chant and psalmody, the litany, the whole works. Give up on the modern stuff: it's awful, and very little of value will be lost in just ditching it entirely.
     
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  2. Ananias

    Ananias Active Member Anglican

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    As a baseline of the kind of hymn I like, consider the old Puritan standard "How Firm a Foundation".
     
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  3. Botolph

    Botolph Well-Known Member

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    Once I thing we sought to lift people up, and today we seem besotted by the notion of making God relevant.
     
  4. Rexlion

    Rexlion Well-Known Member

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    Traditional hymns (preferably with organ accompaniment) restore a sense of sacredness and grandeur to the service. They say, "This isn't the modern world's way, this is different; God is holy, He calls us to be holy (set apart), so this is a time to separate one's thoughts from the world and draw near to our holy God."

    I don't see a problem with using Christian pop music in a concert hall to draw a crowd and do some evangelism. But it shouldn't be in church. People need to see that the church (the people, the place, and the worship service to boot) is "in the world but not of the world."
     
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  5. Scottish Knight

    Scottish Knight Well-Known Member

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    I partially agree with you. There is some terrible Christian music out there and yes, music should be chosen as carefully as sermons.

    But I also want to stand up for modern church music. There are a lot of theologically deep modern music out there -Keith Green, Graham Kendrick, Marantha singers, Keith and Kristyn Getty and Stuart Townsend spring to mind as well as many others. I think to overemphasise the negatives in some quarters under the broad banner of "modern Christian music" is to devalue the God-given gifts of many contemporary songwriters and musicians and the edification they have brought to many within the Church.
     
    Last edited: Dec 16, 2020
  6. Tiffy

    Tiffy Well-Known Member

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    Annanias can be excused for being so disgruntled with popular Christian music. He is American and they have the worst of it over there. Thankfully most of it will not survive as the best of the old Weslyan hymns mostly have. We must admit however that Charles Wesley wrote thousands of hymns and not all of them by any means were meritorious enough to have lasted into our own time. The Anglican church missed some serious tricks though early on when it wouldn't allow the Westley's 'new fangled' stuff to be sung in church. If it hadn't had to give in to the 'new ways' it would still be boring congregations who don't understand pointing or how to sing Anglican chant.

    Thinking that God is incapable of innovation is a big mistake. Not wanting to 'move with the times' can sometimes mean sedantly fossilising into a dangerous, Holy Spirit bereft, obscurity.
    .
     
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  7. Ananias

    Ananias Active Member Anglican

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    Speaking of Christian music and the wider culture....

    I'm torn on this, actually. I'm not a particular fan of Lauren Daigle's work (which you probably have already surmised) but I do think that this event has larger implications regarding public Christian worship.

    This is one of the reasons I wish modern Christian music was of higher quality -- it would make it easier for me to defend it on artistic rather than religious grounds. No one has to defend Handel's Messiah on strictly religious grounds because its excellence as music is so manifest; secularists and pagans who try to ban it must contend not just with irate Christians, but with music-lovers more generally.
     
  8. Tiffy

    Tiffy Well-Known Member

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    I think the thing most Anglicans find uncomfortable is the tendency which seems to promote love songs to Jesus in the supposed 'adoration' category.

    I wonder if Jesus would find them similarly embarrassing from both men and women who have been brought up on Hollywood Films and perfume adverts so seem not to appreciate the difference between agape, philio and eros.
    .
     
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  9. Shane R

    Shane R Well-Known Member

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    I had to substitute as the organist a couple of weeks ago. It was pretty sketchy. My mother taught me to play piano when I was in my teens but I never really learned to play the left hand part. But the regular organist had picked fairly simple songs for that Sunday and I was able to pound out the melody line. Now the rector knows that in dire emergencies, I can play a few bars of music.
     
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  10. Holly Joy Battle

    Holly Joy Battle Member Anglican

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    Interesting debate. I also like the old traditional hymns, but do see the need for modern music in the Church. We need to appeal to the young people and get them to come to Church. Folks can't get saved if they aren't hearing the Word. So as long as it is not heretical, I think it might be beneficial. One church I attended had a "Modern" service and an "Old Farts" service as I call it. Seemed to work well.
     
  11. Chartreux

    Chartreux Member

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    This is a great modern hymn written by Graham Kendrick in the 80's:
     
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  12. Rexlion

    Rexlion Well-Known Member

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    But it doesn't sound modern. It has the sound of a much older hymn. Especially when accompanied by an organ. Seems like it would fit right in with an Anglican service.

    I supposed there are plenty of people alive today who did not grow up hearing traditional church hymns on Sunday. They may not have grown up in church at all. For them, I suppose traditional hymns with organ might seem jarring. But for some of us, the latter sound "just right," and that's why we need some churches to still offer them. (50 years from now, who knows.....?) :dunno:

    I have a nephew, a godson actually, whose parents were RC but very lukewarm about it. He grew up loving music and played in a rock band in his 20s. He didn't share the faith, and that grieved me. At one point I sent him a copy of Mylon LeFevre & Broken Heart's "Sheep in Wolves' Clothing" album. My nephew wound up getting married and having kids, and they all became regular attendees at a Methodist church where he'd play drums during worship. One day he told me that the music and lyrics in the album I'd sent him (some 2 decades past), after listening and enjoying it many times, played a huge role in his turn to faith in God. Yes, God can work in people's hearts through modern music.

    When my wife, kids and I switched from the RCC to Assemblies of God in '85, that church sang from a hymnal but the songs were quite different. One of the local favorites was written in 1939:

    "Oh! Victory in Jesus! My Savior forever!
    He sought me and He bought me
    with His redeeming blood.
    He loved me ere I knew Him
    and all my love is due Him.
    He plunged me to victory
    beneath the cleansing flood."​
    The tempo is quite peppy and everyone would clap their hands. It wasn't hard to adjust to hymns like these, and the truth they spoke stayed with you. They had some theological meat to them.

    The stuff being sung in the A/G church most recently (not even in the same state as before, btw) before my move to Anglicanism was just awful. Pathetic lyrics. Most of the congregants just stood there watching the music leaders sing and play. It was like trying to chew cardboard for breakfast. One of the pastor's favorites:
    "Anything can happen in this place.
    Anything can happen, anything can happen."​
    What the........? Bleah!!! :sick:
     
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  13. Holly Joy Battle

    Holly Joy Battle Member Anglican

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    I knew Victory in Jesus from Baptist Church
     
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