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Thread: The Unpopular Contemporary Church Music

  1. #151
    ppp Pianississmo MILBIL's Avatar
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    Dec 2016
    Eastern US
    Mr Casteel- I just came across this. Well said, and right on the mark! Thank you.

    Quote Originally Posted by davidecasteel View Post
    Of course, you have a point. However, I think that a lot of the concern on this forum is more directed to the trend away from traditional music and going almost exclusively to the Praise Band style. Young people these days do not hear Classical music (including traditional church music) on the radio or TV, are generally not exposed to it any more in school, and don't buy CDs of it. Their friends don't listen to it, their parents many times don't listen to it, and schools don't do much of it, so if it is not presented to them in church where will they ever hear it? This situation causes many traditionalists to despair that the music they love will just die out because no new minds are being exposed to it. There is no parallel concern that contemporary music will die out, because much of it is essentially pop culture music and its natureis to be ephemeral and transient. It is totally ubiquitous and everyone is surrounded by it every day. Traditional music requires study to be properly understood and enjoyed, and much of the population today just does not have the necessary attention span and interest to devote the energy required. Much contemporary music is quite shallow, instantly accessible, and requires little concentration or effort to assimilate. We are rapidly becoming a society that is incapable of making any effort or commitment beyond instant gratification. Traditional musicians see the trend to contemporary music as a visible sign of that slow degradation and that is what triggers their dislike of having it in church, not a hatred of the music itself (although that no doubt also exists).</P>


  2. #152
    fff Fortississimo davidecasteel's Avatar
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    Oct 2003
    Dallas, Texas
    Quote Originally Posted by regeron View Post
    Not sure I agree with organistrealswell on one point - "Tradition music is "God Centered" whereas Contempary Music tends to be very much "Man Centered." </P>

    I was once working with a choir in a traditional Baptist church, before praise music got a strong foothold there, so the hymnbook was still the single source for congregational music.I mentioned once that what we sing can tell us about the priorities in our lives. As an exercise, I asked them to turn to the index at the back, and have a look at how many hymns started with the word 'God' or 'Jesus' or 'Lord' or 'Holy Spirit.' There were a number of hymns in each section. Then I asked them to see how many hymns started with the word 'I'. They looked, and no words were spoken, but their faces showed their surprise and dismay when they realized that there were probably twice as many 'I' hymns as all the others put together.</P>

    These were traditional Baptist hymns, long before praise music came along.</P>
    I just checked our current UMC Hymnal, and we have these numbers:

    "I" Hymns -- 25
    "God" Hymns -- 19
    "Jesus" Hymns -- 23
    "Lord" Hymns -- 12
    "Holy" Hymns -- 4 (God, Spirit)
    "Savior" Hymns -- 3
    "Spirit" Hymns -- 3
    "O" Hymns --15 (Christ, God, Spirit, Lord, etc.)
    "My" Hymns -- 9 (6 referring to God, Jesus, or Lord)
    "We" Hymns -- 14 (none used personally)

    That means that there are 28 Hymns ("I" and personal "My") that are directed to the self and 85 (all the others excluding "We") that are directed to God in some form. I don't consider that a bad distribution.


  3. #153
    Moderator jbird604's Avatar
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    Sep 2006
    Arkansas, USA
    Interesting old thread. Glad to see it come to the top. I remain firmly committed to traditional worship and believe that traditional music is preferable for many reasons -- though I often hear a "contemporary" or "praise and worship" type song that is actually quite commendable on several fronts. There are a good many such songs that are in fact God-centered and God-honoring, some that are based entirely on scripture, some are even direct scripture quotes set to music. So it's often hard to fault these songs on content. They aren't all "seven-eleven" songs, nor are they all about "Jesus is my boyfriend."

    But the fact remains that much contemporary music is, as David noted in one post, ephemeral. Indeed, by definition, contemporary music must be "current" or "new" and ceases to be "contemporary" after some period of time. And I know some proponents of that worship style who constantly complain that the music in their services quickly grows stale, and that they must constantly seek out new songs to keep the services fresh. That issue precludes the development of a solid repertoire, and tends to give a pass to poorly written music and near-meaningless texts because as long as they are "new" they are OK, at least for a while. They're quickly headed for the scrap heap anyway.

    So I am saddened by the realities that David pointed out -- that so few people today are even getting exposed to classical music, to traditional hymns and worship, to the music of the ages, to instruments like the organ that require much discipline and study for mastery, as opposed to the guitar and drums and such that teenagers seem to pick up on and turn into pros in just a few sessions.

    Only thing I know to do is just keep on doing what I can do. I try to play traditional music and lead my choir and my congregation to know and enjoy that music best I can. I try my best to never let it be boring or humdrum or perfunctory. And if we who know "real" music can remain faithful and do our best, we at least are not to blame if music continues its slide and carries the culture with it.
    Church: Allen MDS-45 with Allen MIDI-DIVISION-II expander
    Home: Allen Renaissance R-230 with expanded four-channel audio and MIDI-DIVISION-II
    Shop: Bunch of organs in varying conditions, some good, some not...
    Half of an incredible two-man organ service team -- servicing all the major digitals in Arkansas churches

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