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Blended Worship December 7, 2007

Posted by dmspagnesi in Uncategorized.
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I was reading a post on http://lifemusicministry.wordpress.com/ talking about the issue of blended worship (the usage of traditional and contemporary music within the same worship service).  As alluded to earlier, the church I grew up in offered a service of blended worship.

 On the whole, this post gave an accurate (if somewhat critical) view on the practice, citing it as an attempt to avoid conflict which may end up causing further complications such as the mixing of musical styles, confusion, and being a symptom of underlying problems.  Coming from a blended worship church, I will admit to having observed some of this from time to time.

Still, growing up with blended worship I feel has led me to be appreciate both forms particularly well.  I feel relatively at home when visiting churches that ascribe to either form of worship, and part of that is due to my familiarity with both music forms.  That being said, Jon’s post did lead me to question what a newcomer (or nonbeliever for that matter) would think entering a church that employed both an organist and a priase band.

Honestly, Jon’s final point about choosing a style and doing it well really hits the mark.  Many churches that I’ve seen attempt to compromise between tradition and change try to appease everyone and often are left appeasing none.  I question though if it’s indeed possible to incorporate both performance styles well.  Certainly, my church would be deemed mediocre on both levels.  But perhaps the polar opposite would be a concern. 

In defining leading worship music in either style “well,” the focus must remain upon the worship element above the music element.  Thus a 40 member chancel choir who is able to perform Rutter’s Magnificat flawlessly though musically impressive could be as spirtually dead as ever.  Or a praise band may perform with the flair and precision of a secular pop rock band, but again at what cost?  This is not to say that worship music should not be of high quality.  As a professional musician, high quality music has tremendous appeal to me in many venues.  In the context of worship though, it is heart that makes the difference.  As a worship leader, I’d rather conduct an old-lady’s club choir who truly worshipped with all their heart even as they warble around the notes on the page than a technically inclined but spiritually stunted choir. 

This is just a brief view into the dynamics of blended worship, and like many concepts it has pros and cons.  For a lengthier discussion and further dialog on this point, visit http://lifemusicministry.wordpress.com/ .

~Spags

Animoto Post of Spags Video December 5, 2007

Posted by dmspagnesi in Assignments.
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THis is a test post in my blog to try to embed animotos flash presentations.  This animoto animation is relating to architecture of mainly New English colonial era houses.

Purpose October 17, 2007

Posted by dmspagnesi in Assignments, Blogroll.
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05_24_8-church-organ_web.jpgGreetings all.  The purpose of this blog is to muse about the proper place of varying musical styles employed in worship services.  My experiences growing up were in a church that practiced “blended worship” meaning the usage of both traditional hymns and anthems and contemporary worship music.  This topic is hotly contested even amongst my family.  My aunt is a church organist in a lutheran sect for example that holds very strong opinions against what has become known as praise and worship.  On the other hand, a church I attended in this area which fell strongly in the category of “traditional” was spiritually dead.  Thus I am left to wonder what merits are held by either one and what detriments they incur in reference to worship.

  Again, my own experience was of a mixture of the two.  (Other churches have dealt with this issue by offering multiple services of varying styles).  Still, as I have tested the waters of churches beyond that which I grew up in, I find that my own church’s concept for “contemporary” music is itself dated.  I view some of the copyright dates of the songs being sung, and many are placed squarely in the 1970s and occassionally the 1980s.  Though I would not suggest that good music falls out of favor over the course of 30 years–otherwise how would we know of the likes of Bach and Mozart?–it would seem odd to presuppose that all worthwhile music was already in existence and required little revision.  I would be inclined to think the writers of contemporary christian music would suggest the opposite–they are writing music now because it is worthwhile–it is constantly worthwhile.  To argue that only music from the mid-70s to the mid-90s was of value would be a few steps away from arguing that only music composed in the 16th century amidst the protestant reformation, or of the 9th century was appropriate.

   To be sure, hymn tunes like A Mighty Fortress is Our God and the chants of the Catholic Mass have their good and bad points.  Some would argue that the more structured musically, the more restricted spiritually one feels.  In other words, while singing 4-part chorales, some find themselves focusing more upon the structure of the music rather than its message.  Others would say that latin rites are similarly limiting in that they require knowledge of a now “dead” language to fully appreciate.  Yet I myself have found a certain amount of disappointment when the chorus of a worship song is repeated ad libitum, or when its message is one of perhaps a couple words.  The issue at this point is one of choice–choosing a form that is least distracting in the facilitation of worship.

  In addition to this set of goals, I hope to provide access to more informed opinions on this matter.  I’m certain that denominations who forbid particular forms of music in worship have a well conceived reason for their beliefs.  I would wish to attempt to understand the context of such beliefs before weighing their validity or applicability.  Moreover, I feel that a balanced view of this debate is most easily obtained by contrasting the extremes and viewing the middle-ground.  In the weeks ahead, I hope to further define the purpose of the blog and seek its fulfillment.

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This blog is about church music September 12, 2007

Posted by dmspagnesi in Assignments.
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  More specifically, this site is geared to ponder the types of music used in Christian worship nowadays.  I have seen sometimes vehement arguments regarding the type of music that is appropriate for use in churches, ranging from a cappella singing of psalms only all the way to praise and worship bands.  Some would say “different strokes for different folks” and I would tend to agree, but such is a fairly uninformed decision.

 In order to better understand the nuances of this debate, I have decided to post periodically with my findings.  I hope to justify the place for many types of music in churches despite the diversity of Christian traditions.  We shall see where this all ends up going…