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Thread: Playing non-christian pieces for worship

  1. #21

    Re: Playing non-christian pieces for worship

    [quote user="Nora"]


    This the question I often ask myself when I am playing in the church. </P>


    My only rule is toavoid tohurt religious feelings of the prayers, butin my mind,music itself is not religious or non-religious. Music is music. Words can be religious, it is much more difficult to classify the melodies. Ioften usesome love-song or nature-song themes while improvising, because I find them beautiful and "in the mood". Ichoose those with a certain respect, or unknown, to be sure not to disturbpeople in their holy feelings.</P>


    On theother hand - canwe really know the intentions of the author? Nobody can controle what he really ment the moment he wrote his piece of music. Maybe he devoted his masterpiece to the God, to be sure that he will be played and payed? Try to imagine Bach saying "I compose my music to worship my wife". Or try to imagine Eros Ramazotti saying something like "I sing for the Lord." </P>
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    [/quote] Nora, it's nice you have chosen this topic for your first contribution.</P>


    I think we canīt forget that there are only two kinds of church organists: Believers, whose ministry is to play, and unbelievers, who play for the wage. And they are worlds apart. I think that believer organists know, or they should remember, certain things (that unbelievers canīt neither understand nor imagine):</P>


    i) During worship God is present.</P>


    ii) God is who searches the minds and hearts (and He will give to each one according to his/her deeds), He knows our intimate purposes better than ourselves, and He is not mocked.</P>


    iii) Perhaps few in a congregation could distinguish between classical and christian music, between a human love song and a hymn (devoid of the lyrics), but God certainly can.</P>


    iv) Church is not a concert hall. </P>


    Itīs well to respect the feelings of the congregation, but with the thoughts above, I'm trying to take God's feelings into account too, as you see.</P>
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    I think in such christians, pious, wise, and gifted with spiritual authority, who attached christian lyrics to popular, traditional or even classical tunes, as we all know, producing many of our current hymns. I wonder if they do it so because "Music itself is not religious or non-religious. Music is music". Quite possible. In that way, non-religious music became "sanctified", making it suitable for worship. Butwhich way they do it through? Through christian lyrics, or by means of their spiritual authority? Can we offer to the Lord no sanctified music? Is it the mood of the music enough "sanctification"?</P>


    But, on the other hand, there is a recent film, "Copying Beethoven", plentiful of lovely dialogues, where the composer just declares: "Music is the language of God". Then, is music non-religious? </P>


    Warm regards.</P>

  2. #22

    Re: Playing non-christian pieces for worship



    [quote user="Rafael Chacon"]I think we canīt forget that there are only two kinds of church organists: Believers, whose ministry is to play, and unbelievers, who play for the wage.[/quote]</P>


    That may be ONE way of describing differences, but it's not the only one. I know "believer" organists who play terribly! It's simply awful to endure them sitting at the organ. I have walked out of services, to prevent myself from enduring the pain. And I know "non-believer" organists who have inspired many to do great things. Let's not fall into the simplistic christian trap of "we christians are automatically better at everything, just because we believe." That is nothing short of an arrogant lie.The bible says, "Believe, that you might be saved". It doesn't say, "Believe, that you may be better than everyone else." [By the way, I know many believers who play for money.]</P>


    [quote user="Rafael Chacon"]And they are worlds apart. I think that believer organists know, or they should remember, certain things (that unbelievers canīt neither understand nor imagine):</P>


    i) During worship God is present.</P>


    ii) God is who searches the minds and hearts (and He will give to each one according to his/her deeds), He knows our intimate purposes better than ourselves, and He is not mocked.</P>


    iii) Perhaps few in a congregation could distinguish between classical and christian music, between a human love song and a hymn (devoid of the lyrics), but God certainly can.[/quote]</P>


    Hmmm... That's not a very flattering description of the people in the congregation. My parents are not very musical, but they can tell the difference.</P>


    [quote user="Rafael Chacon"]</P>


    iv) Church is not a concert hall.[/quote]</P>


    Can you tell me what the difference is?</P>


    [quote user="Rafael Chacon"]Itīs well to respect the feelings of the congregation, but with the thoughts above, I'm trying to take God's feelings into account too, as you see.[/quote]</P>


    Ha, yes, to paraphrase a line from the film "What the Bleep@#$%!" -- How arrogant of us humans to think that although god rulesthe entire universe with all its galaxies, stars and planets,and guides the path of each molecule in every plant and animal --- we can ruin his day if we tell a white lie -- http://www.whatthebleep.com/</P>


    [quote user="Rafael Chacon"]</P>


    I think in such christians, pious, wise, and gifted with spiritual authority, who attached christian lyrics to popular, traditional or even classical tunes, as we all know, producing many of our current hymns. I wonder if they do it so because "Music itself is not religious or non-religious. Music is music". Quite possible. In that way, non-religious music became "sanctified", making it suitable for worship. Butwhich way they do it through? Through christian lyrics, or by means of their spiritual authority? Can we offer to the Lord no sanctified music? Is it the mood of the music enough "sanctification"?</P>


    But, on the other hand, there is a recent film, "Copying Beethoven", plentiful of lovely dialogues, where the composer just declares: "Music is the language of God". Then, is music non-religious? </P>


    [/quote]</P>


    Once, while going to visit an uncle of mine who is a very devout Baptist minister, I witnessed someone who was quite obviously not a christian, helping someone in need. I was quite moved by this demontration of love for another human being. When I arrived at my uncle's home, I told him that sometimes christians can learn a lot from non-christians about how to behave. He nearly blew up. He could not see how that was possible.</P>


    Just remember, being a christian doesn't make you better. It simply means that according to your belief system, there is a heaven and you are going there. Nothing more. According to your system, even forgiveness is available to non-christians.</P>


    I'm sorry for sounding so negative, but I used to think as you do, and in my youth, I could have written everything that you have written here. I believed it all. But my church encouraged us to study and learn. So I did. And I began to see the many flaws. If there is a god, that god is not a man sitting on a cloud or a throne. Most of the bible is not a good guide from which we learn morals and ethics, unless we use it to see how we should NOT behave, for it contains so many examples of bad behaviour.</P>


    Going back to the question of music - if something is beautiful, and inspires people to live a life that demonstrates love for other human beings and for creation, a life that seeks to encourage the gifts of others and work cooperatively with those around us, then that something is good. As others have mentioned, it includes a sense of propriety - does the music fit the situation and the listener? does it bring out the talents of the one performing? does it inspire?</P>


    The idea of 'sanctification' seems to imply that god could make something that wasn't good until it was sanctified, at which time it automatically becomes good. I don't understand that. Either it was good, or it wasn't. Again, christians like to show how they are better than everyone else, and arrogance and pride are the reality of their lives.</P>

  3. #23

    Re: Playing non-christian pieces for worship

    [quote user="regeron"]


    That may be ONE way of describing differences, but it's not the only one. I know "believer" organists who play terribly! It's simply awful to endure them sitting at the organ. I have walked out of services, to prevent myself from enduring the pain. And I know "non-believer" organists who have inspired many to do great things. Let's not fall into the simplistic christian trap of "we christians are automatically better at everything, just because we believe." That is nothing short of an arrogant lie.The bible says, "Believe, that you might be saved". It doesn't say, "Believe, that you may be better than everyone else." [By the way, I know many believers who play for money.]</P>


    [/quote]</P>


    And what do you here from the clergy in those churches? This is what I have heard; "I would rather have an amateurmusician sing or play with the spirit of God, than have a classically trained musician who doesn't know the Lord." The congregations put up with bad music because they have been told that God is there with all the wrong notes!</P>


    Would these same congregations put up with amateur preachers who mispronounce and can't read all the words correctly?</P>
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  4. #24

    Re: Playing non-christian pieces for worship

    [quote user="Tony Milwaukee"]


    Would these same congregations put up with amateur preachers who mispronounce and can't read all the words correctly?[/quote]</P>


    Yes, Tony, they would and they do. As long as you have your bible school certificate from the right place, you are 'nice' and you don't rock the boat, you can get away witha lot. I once had to work with a minister who couldn't write a prayer unless he had at least 10 days notice, and that's just the beginning of his list of deficiencies, even though he was at the top of the salary scale for his denomination. But he was a "nice man" so no one complained and no one called him on anything.</P>


    The musician of this church, however, had tobe versatile in their worship styles, flexible when it came to working with others, qualified enough to satisfy all 30 members of the choir, and endure much more criticism from the congregation, even though they were more qualified than the minister. Yet they probably earned less than 1/4 of the minister's salary. I love how christians demonstrate such fairness - NOT.</P>

  5. #25

    Re: Playing non-christian pieces for worship



    Returningto the original post, it seems that many people who have responded have boiled the answer down to "appropriateness."</P>


    But the question raises another issue, the fact that many religious types, including but not limited to christians, live a life based onELITISM --the idea that "we" are better than "them." It is not just limited to what music is played or who they hire, but it is reflected in which restaurant they will patronize for lunch after a service of worship. If the restaurant owner belongs to the same faith group as them, people will go - regardless of food qualilty and service. These people will buy their church supplies from the local "christian" supplier, even if it's just floor wax or toilet paper. I think the only exception would be if they got a real deal at a box store, because in addition to being elitist, many of these people are also cheap.</P>


    A sad reality in the music instrument world is that many christians have gotten into retail, offering mediocre instruments with mediocre follow-up service, because they know they can make a living off the elitist churches who will choose them because "after all, they're believers, just like us." In this complaint, I do not include the many qualified instrument suppliers and service people who happen to belong to faith groups; I am only pointing out what I saw when I used to spend more time in smaller communities.</P>

  6. #26
    Senior Member Clarion's Avatar
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    Re: Playing non-christian pieces for worship



    [quote user="regeron"]As long as . . . .are 'nice' and you don't rock the boat, you can get away witha lot. I once had to work with a minister who couldn't write a prayer unless he had at least 10 days notice, and that's just the beginning of his list of deficiencies, even though he was at the top of the salary scale for his denomination. But he was a "nice man" so no one complained and no one called him on anything.[/quote]</P>


    Welcome to the real world![] Being a nice guy who doesn't rock the boat, makes up90% of the skills you will need to maintain a career, or get aheadin the corporate world. From past experience: At the outset when interviewing someone for a job, the fact that they even got the interview, means that they either havethe technical qualifications, or are capableof learning the system. You can teach a person technicalities, but you can'tteach them to be a nice guy. So, when interviewing someone for a position, assuming that they were already reasonably competent, my primary focus would be totally directed at determining if this person was a nice guy, i.e. someone that I wouldenjoy workingnext to me 35 hours a week40 weeks of the year, for the next 20 years!! [:S] It's a lot like choosing a wife, except I realize that over the ensuing years, I will bespending a whole lot more time with this potential co-worker than Iwill ever spend with mywife! [:|]</P>
    2008: Phoenix III/44

  7. #27
    Senior Member Clarion's Avatar
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    Re: Playing non-christian pieces for worship



    [quote user="regeron"] But the question raises another issue, the fact that many religious types, including but not limited to christians, live a life based onELITISM --the idea that "we" are better than "them."[/quote]</P>


    Well yeah! If we can't be better than "them", then what's the point?? [] We havemore or less subscribed to a Be ye perfect as I am perfect kind of ethic.</P>


    I tend to get agiggle out of reading the Gospel of Mathew -vs- the Gospel of Luke. Luke . . is a doctor. He's not all that stupid.One who is motivated to serve God and be the best he can possibly be, always strives for the absolute highesthe can attain.</P>


    Matthew . . . He's more my kind of guy. [:S] When Jesusteaches that divorced people who shack up with someone else are committing adultery, Luke seems to be satisfied with that answer, as final, without question. [] Matthew, on the other hand, is a tax accountant. He's not somuch interested in adhering to the rules, as discovering the loopholes. &lt;har!&gt; While Matthew gleefullyreports the loopholes, Luke who strove to achieve the highest for the Highest, refrained from mentioning them.</P>


    [quote user="regeron"] It is not just limited to what music is played or who they hire, but it is reflected in which restaurant they will patronize for lunch after a service of worship. If the restaurant owner belongs to the same faith group as them, people will go - regardless of food qualilty and service.[/quote]</P>


    That's a rather far-fetched observation. We alwaysgo the the very best, nothwithstanding that many restaurants who buy into your suggestion, postBible verses in the window or on the menu.[]</P>


    [quote user="regeron"]These people will buy their church supplies from the local "christian" supplier, even if it's just floor wax or toilet paper. I think the only exception would be if they got a real deal at a box store, because in addition to being elitist, many of these people are also cheap.[/quote]</P>


    That's a rathermeritless observation. [] Mitchell Books here in Toronto, the biggest supplier and distributor of religious books and music in all of North America has recently been forced to declare bankruptcy! Do tell regeron, how does that benefit anyone??!! Shelf-after-shelf of sacred music now gone! Forever!</P>


    If you don't patronize them, they will die! And now they have died! And to be replaced with what?? []</P>


    [quote user="regeron"]A sad reality in the music instrument world is that many christians have gotten into retail, offering mediocre instruments with mediocre follow-up service, because they know they can make a living off the elitist churches who will choose them because "after all, they're believers, just like us." In this complaint, I do not include the many qualified instrument suppliers and service people who happen to belong to faith groups; I am only pointing out what I saw when I used to spend more time in smaller communities.[/quote]</P>


    While a sad reality, when it comes time for achurch to buy a new organ; is there anything more logical than appointing the localorgan dealer/church member to providesuch advice?</P>
    2008: Phoenix III/44

  8. #28
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    Re: Playing non-christian pieces for worship

    [quote user="ShadyJoe"]


    I'm sure we could find people who insist that nopiece written in the last 100 years is proper worship music. A piece with a beat you can dance to? That's devil music!!! Conservatives tend to stick to the same old stuff. Why bother adding something new?</P>
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  9. #29

    Re: Playing non-christian pieces for worship



    [quote user="regeron"]Yes, Tony, they would and they do. As long as you have your bible school certificate from the right place, you are 'nice' and you don't rock the boat, you can get away witha lot. [/quote]</P>


    Ministers who are nice and don't rock the boat also bring in the most money. Congregations love filling the plates when they are being passed when they feel good about themselves after the sermon. If the preacher mentions that they sin and need to be saved that might upset the congregation and they will put less money in the plate! So you dare not mention that! If you do there goes the new building fund.</P>
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  10. #30
    Senior Member Menschenstimme's Avatar
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    Re: Playing non-christian pieces for worship

    Amen, Tony! There is an RC parish in this area that is far richer than the rest of us because they follow the formula that you outline. SIGH!

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