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Something to think about as we start a new year
Topic Started: Jan 7 2007, 09:46 PM (1,719 Views)
DeanZF
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I'm on several discussion boards, a couple of them for the worship arts. A couple of other folks on this forum regularly take part in the other one, so this will be a repeat for them.

The question was asked, "What were your favorite songs for 2006?" It received answers that were from individuals on their own behalf and from individuals answering that the congregation's favs for the year were...

As I read the list, I was struck as to how many of the songs were just so very commercial. I had to respond, hoping to provoke a few folks to hear this voice crying in the wilderness of contemporary Christian music. It's posted hear by special request.

A Lament

I have a hurting in my heart about songs at play in the body at this moment in time.

Once upon a time, in the not so long ago, there were a rash of wonderful, God-centered, worshipful or praise-ful songs that erupted on the scene. Many of them were scripture quotes, most of them were written by relative unknowns, some were just the result of worship times or "words" to some specific, unnamed congregation in the Kingdom. Those songs went on to become the staples of worship in many places. Why were they adopted? Primarily because they were wonderful, God-centered, worshipful, or praise-ful songs. Not because they were heard on the radio or from the latest hot CD from some currently-popular artist. Not because, "Hey, our band can do sounds like that!"

During that time, there also seemed to have been a greater number of "home-grown" songs that followed the same sort of pattern of praying through a scripture and having Father provide a melody that fit the words and that was reasonably easy to sing. No hooks, no formulae, not a lot of gimmickry. In several of the congregations that we've called home over the years, there seemed to have been called psalmists and song-smiths who crafted songs that lit up the congregations. Think about Darlene Zschech and a few others of similar status. The songs that they wrote and that sent them to stardom in the Kingdom were written for their congregations with the intention of creating a worshipful or praise-ful experience. They were not written so they'd conveniently fit in CD tracks or with intentional "hooks" (formula songs), and they were written specifically so that they would be easy to sing and memorable.

Contrast those songs with some of what's coming forth today. Super syncopated, words that don't fit melodic lines, words that are really in the radio-pop-concert culture more than the congregational culture. We seem to be ever-increasingly converting our congregations to extensions of the local Christian Radio Station! That's alarming to me. I don't travel as much as I used to, so I don't get into as many congregations as I used to sadly. The ones that I do visit, however, often provide two types of songs for congregational consumption. It works out to songs that the bulk of the people sing and those that the bulk of the people just listen to because there are too many syllables in too few beats, so much syncopation that the pulse is lost on them, or that they just can't "get" the melody. I listen to poor or careless musical choices in the times when we do travel. People leading songs of repentence during a time of Communion, people leading songs that don't even mention God during times that are supposed to be either praising Him (Dean-defined as talking ABOUT Him to others) or worshiping Him (Dean-defined as talking TO Him about Him, not about me!). I listen to deep, passionate love songs to Him sung like polkas or an Iron Butterfly rendition. I watch what seems to be performance after performance that are focusing attention on the the lead singers in the literal spotlight rather than watching those lead singers get out of the way so folks can commune with their God.

Again, not casting aspersions, just asking questions. Are we as music worship leaders listening and paying attention to the response of the people or are we just sinking into warm puddles of personal feel-goods because of some jazzy, poppy, top-40 sounds? Are we thinking about what we're serving our people or just doing the latest greatest cool songs that we heard on the radio or the latest CD from a favorite pop-icon artist? Are we being careful--no, ADAMANT, to avoid the spotlight and to point others to Him, and not be singing about ourselves more than about or to Him? Listen carefully to the words you sing. Speak them out and listen to what they say without the music. Am "I" mentioned more than "You, O Lord"?

I offer this post just as something to think and pray about for your own musical efforts over the last year, and into the new.

Blessings!
Blessings!

Dean
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sonworshiper
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Hmm, didn't we just discuss this on another list? ;)

I don't tend to do the difficult songs you mentioned. . .

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Super syncopated, words that don't fit melodic lines, words that are really in the radio-pop-concert culture more than the congregational culture.
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I love some of the songs like that--makes me think of some of the newer more difficult songs from Hillsong. But as much as I like the songs, and are touched by them, I can't and won't do them in worship at our church. I can't do them justice and as well, they would be hard to do for the congregation. So I'll just enjoy listening to the cd's and worship with them. :)

I think also of those "wordy" songs. . . my son and I were discussing this as we were driving to do groceries today. . . I love Chris Tomlin's song "Indiscribable", however, it's awfully wordy. I have a hard time "leading it" because I have to concentrate so hard on the words and where it goes. . . so I don't do it at church--I did it only once. . .didn't go so well, although people love the song--it's hard to sing.

I also think of Newsboys' "It is You". . .. great song--all about HIM Dean. ;) But it's really hard to keep up with well--in "music" we'd say. . .first and second endings and coda's. Hard to do while trying to worship. I think anyway.

When I'm introducing a new song at church, I look for a good catchy tune, that's easy to learn, and good lyrics that touch my spirit. I know it's not about "my" spirit, but when I'm looking at prospective songs, "my" spirit is what I have. . .and I rely on God's leading to help me choose those new ones.

Once I do the song at church, I look for how it went over, did they catch on to it quickly? Was it easy for them? Did they enter into worship even though it was a new song? I also look to see their facial expressions. Then I wait to hear reactions--and I ask them as well if they liked it. Most often, they love the new songs and I'll add them permanently to my list. Otherwise, I won't use it again.

I do keep a few songs "about me", for repentive moments, where "I", or "we" need to get down to some repenting and vowing and such. Always a good thing.

Interestingly enough, when I'm leading a spontaneous worship time, or selah moment or whatever wording people use for those times between songs. . . .my singing usually ends up concentrating on the holiness of God. . . encouraging people to worship Him because of Who He is and because of His character.

Anyway, that's my little rant for the moment. ;)

Blessings!

Moe.
:crooner:

(I just love the smilie with the guitar! -- makes me smile everytime!)


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Because you are my help,
I sing in the shadow of your wings.

Psalm 63:7

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DeanZF
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sonworshiper
Feb 10 2007, 03:52 PM
When I'm introducing a new song at church, I look for a good catchy tune, that's easy to learn, and good lyrics that touch my spirit. I know it's not about "my" spirit, but when I'm looking at prospective songs, "my" spirit is what I have. . .and I rely on God's leading to help me choose those new ones.

Once I do the song at church, I look for how it went over, did they catch on to it quickly? Was it easy for them? Did they enter into worship even though it was a new song? I also look to see their facial expressions. Then I wait to hear reactions--and I ask them as well if they liked it. Most often, they love the new songs and I'll add them permanently to my list. Otherwise, I won't use it again.

I do keep a few songs "about me", for repentive moments, where "I", or "we" need to get down to some repenting and vowing and such. Always a good thing.

Interestingly enough, when I'm leading a spontaneous worship time, or selah moment or whatever wording people use for those times between songs. . . .my singing usually ends up concentrating on the holiness of God. . . encouraging people to worship Him because of Who He is and because of His character.

Anyway, that's my little rant for the moment. ;)

And a good little rant it was!! :D

I've quoted several of your really good and pertinent points. You've captured and illustrated my points pretty well.

The deal is that when we have music that is complex and difficult to do, we end up spending our time and energy concentrating on the song, not on the Lord of the song. When we offer music that is easy to catch and that places to breathe and the lyrics of which fit the music well and are not tricky or hooky, people can enter into worship instead of a music workshop! :unsure:

Selah times usually (usually) take on the current spiritual temperature of the one leading. What's burning within you about our Lord at the moment? Holiness is NEVER a bad theme.

What I'm seeing in your paragraph about the "about me" songs is that you have a healthy understanding of what those songs SHOULD be about! IMO, obviously. Yes, there is a place for them, but, again IMO, these are NOT worship songs! Praise songs can have a LOT of ME and US in them, and that's a good thing, reminding ourselves of Who it is that we need to be all about. David spoke to himself a lot. Spoke to his soul a lot. Not a bad thing, just can't be passed off as worship! Singing prayers to God (bless me, help me, heal me, empower me, make me, mold me, fill me, use me) really is not worship. It's prayer! Petition, even. God I'm sorry for what I've done, Just as I Am, etc., are songs of repentence, which is a very oblique form of worship, concentrating on my inability, my lack of strength, my UNholy nature, etc., in contrast to His omni-ability, omni-potence, ultra-holiness, and all the rest that our feeble minds can bring up as comparitors and facets of who He is.

Good post, Moe!
Blessings!

Dean
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