It's All About Hymn

It's All About Hymn

Essays on Reclaiming Sacred and Traditional Music for Worship

eBook - 2008
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Talking about music is like dancing about architecture, as the anonymous saying goes. It‘s often difficult to find and express appropriate symbolic communication (such as body movement or even words), which often has personal, relative meaning, to objectively represent some aspect of our world that we all share. How does choreographed body movement relate to architecture, or spoken or written language to the pure objectivity of music? Language and symbols – as poetic and beautiful as they can be – can take us only so far in communicating some aspect of our world that is both personal but yet shared by us all. If I write the word, “resurrection,” I probably create an image in your mind, a fragmentary depiction – like the single frame of a filmstrip – of the most incredible process in human history. Yet our limited language of symbols can’t adequately represent the unique progression of events that occurred through thousands of years that lead to that unparalleled moment in history.We tend to alter the very things at which we marvel when we represent them with second- or third-order symbols, such as words, pictures, or notation. Those symbols, which often are personal and familiar to us, are shaped by our upbringing, environment, experience, cognitive abilities, and many other variables. These are the reasons why some people prefer the music of Bach and others like The Beatles; some gravitate toward Gothic architecture and others, Romanesque; or some prefer Coke and others, Pepsi. We gather these variables and symbols into a collection that we call our “personal preferences.” Personal preferences, many of which change often, define who and what we are at different stages of growth and maturity in many areas of our lives.But personal preferences are not something upon which we should rely when selecting music for worship. Christian worship requires a unique musical treatment because it serves as a sonic bridge on which our prayers and praises travel to the heavens. Besides applying knowledge of tradition, objective aesthetic criteria, and spiritual discernment for the most appropriate music selections for worship, we must also accept the responsibility for guarding the tradition of liturgy, because like the music integrated with it, it arises from the Word. And we must protect congregational singing – the wholehearted communal participation of the body of Christ – with music choices that reflect the unchanging message of the gospel.Throughout this book, I ask rhetorical questions and provide quotations to hopefully help readers pause and ponder their own beliefs and positions over music used for worship. The rhetorical questions encourage readers to reflect on what the implied answer to the question must be, which is to assert or deny the premise posed in the question. When I ask: “Is secular music, with its pop-culture themes and worldly associations, truly appropriate for use in worship services?”, it’s not for the purpose of discussing or deliberating the pros and cons of such choices. Of course, such music is inappropriate for use in worship – that is the premise. Other questions can spur music directors, worship leaders, church musicians, pastoral staff, and congregations to seek the Holy Spirit’s direction for selecting more appropriate music for worship.I pray that this book will invite meaningful, spirit-directed dialogue not just between but among church musicians, choir members, worship leaders, music directors, pastoral or ministerial staff, and congregations to move in a direction unhesitatingly with music that joyously and unapologetically uplifts a Christian worldview. May these words and ideas challenge your assumptions and preferences about music used for worship, and may it replace any complacency about music style with a passion for Scripture- and spirit-discerned choices that are deserving of a loving Creator.

Publisher: Austin, Tex. : Kings Crown Pub., ©2008
ISBN: 9781937678005
Characteristics: 1 online resource (xii, 256 pages) : illustrations


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