By: Dennis Bates
I love music. All kinds. It speaks to me and stirs my soul like nothing else can. And to me a church service just isn’t much of a service at all unless there is music involved. Good music. Better yet, great music. Songs that tell a story through the verses, the choruses and the emotions they evoke.
Not surprisingly, I love church music and the great hymns. I have some tolerance for modern Christian rock and won’t disparage it if it helps reach younger tastes than mine, but I prefer songs I can understand and sing in a group. My major problem with a lot of the modern Christian rock and contemporary music is that it is meant to be performed, not sung as a church congregation. I don’t mind going to a concert, but church for me should be in four part harmony.
Some of the modern Christian music is written in a key only a soprano could love and makes me want to flick my bic and wave it in a darkened auditorium while standing on the pew with the others. Again, that’s fine in the right setting, but it doesn’t work for me in a church worship service.
I’m not big on the 7-11 songs either. In case you don’t know, those are the choruses (because they aren’t complete songs) that sing the same seven words eleven times. About the fourth time through my mind starts wandering. After six or seven repetitions it goes completely numb.
Give me “How Great Thou Art,” “It is Well With My Soul,” “Amazing Grace,” or if you want more recent, “Here I Am, Lord.” I can sing those, harmonize and get inspired. I’ll even sing Gaither songs because they’re, well, songs. If you want an example of modern music that can be performed but still sung in a church setting, Bill Gaither is the place to go. “Because He Lives,” and “There’s Something About That Name,” are only two and they may be two of the oldest, but they work, and they work well.
Think about it. What would Christmas Eve service be without “Silent Night”? How can you go to church on Easter Sunday and not sing “Christ the Lord is Risen Again”? I would add “Low in the Grave He Lay”, but that’s just me. And what would the Christmas season be without “Joy to the World”, “Hark the Herald Angels Sing”, and “Come All Ye Faithful”?
Is it just me? Am I the only one who gets stirred by traditional hymns? Am I the only one getting older? The only one who thinks worship was just fine the way it was, who feels what we are missing today is the gospel message, preached with excitement, conviction and unapologetic candor from the pulpit and the songs we choose to surround ourselves with?
Because that’s what this is really all about. Reaching deep into our individual souls, stirring them with the love of Jesus Christ and Him crucified and then combining those individual souls into the Body…one body…the body of Christ. If our music isn’t doing that, and, for that matter, if our worship services aren’t doing that, maybe we need t take another look at all of it.