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Purpose October 17, 2007

Posted by dmspagnesi in Assignments, Blogroll.
Tags: , , , ,

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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