Nate wrote:I'm sure many churches would be totally open to the idea of having multiple worship/praise directors but the problem is it's limited by people willing to volunteer. On top of that, I would imagine that even if it's not required for the position, that a lot of people are going to think "I'm not musically inclined so I shouldn't be leading the music."
mechana2015 wrote:So I'm back with my thoughts on the time I was listening to small c contemporary Christian music in particular, and I'll see if I can get a bead on why capital C CCM didin't and probably still doesn't appeal to me. Looking back at the music I have from that time period... well its been a while. 15 years to be honest so this is going to end up being two posts, the first made now after I listen to the stuff I have in my music collection, the second later, after I listen to some time... probably at least a few hours to a day or two of music on Air 1, which is where I learned about a lot of the music I'll be talking about here, albeit 10-15 years ago.
ClaecElric4God wrote:Why should bands or groups or artists be concerned about what people think of them or how their popularity will be affected by one thing or another? I'm sorry if I'm being too blunt, but are these singers more concerned about doing what they believe is right or putting money in their pockets?
We're sort of acting like the very people we're condemning for being narcissistic and shallow by fussing about the fact that we don't feel emotionally invested in this music.
I've heard so many times "We all worship God in our own ways." But how about worshiping God in the way He wants to be worshiped?
That's what I'm striving for, to learn the heart of God and discover how He wants to be worshiped.
They tend to be filled with more Biblical truth, point more strongly towards God and away from ourselves, and frankly they were written by Christians stronger and more deeply dedicated to the service of God than a lot of the artists Christianity is churning out today.
Music played a big part in the Bible on more than a few occasions, and music has played a very huge role in my Christian life. But I want to make sure it is what it's supposed to be, and that I'm not making it something different.
ClaecElric4God wrote: What is the purpose of music in a Christian setting? Not the "official" definition, but to you personally, what is it? Why is it?
ClaecElric4God wrote: I feel like its purpose and intentions have been rather skewed over time, and I think Kaori covered this far more efficiently than I'll be able to, but I'll throw in my two cents just because. Hopefully I can gather my thoughts and not just ramble.
ClaecElric4God wrote: Forgive the inevitable wall of text.
ClaecElric4God wrote: I have an odd take on contemporary music that I won't bother to explain here, but I will say that the conservative Christian music I've heard generally doesn't seem to have the lyrical issues that everyone here finds in a lot of contemporary Christian music.
ClaecElric4God wrote: I've noticed that whenever Christian music is discussed on CAA, the same handful of bands always comes up. And they tend to be the same handful of bands and albums I hear about from Christians around me, too. And perhaps that's because they're the ones who are "good" and popular. I dunno.
ClaecElric4God wrote: My point is, there are many different forms of worship music that aren't cheesy or "love songs about God" or pointless and frivolous and shallow. Kaori mentioned a few. And I'm sure there are other names you could throw out there (I wouldn't know because again, not my field of expertise). But the truth is, there are groups and individuals who write and sing music that most of the world will never experience.
ClaecElric4God wrote: [...] They want to edify the brethren and point to God. I find a lot of depth and meaning to the lyrics of their music. At the same time, that's not their main focus. They're happy if they can bless someone with their music, but their main goal is to bring people to Christ.
And this brings me back to my original question. What is the purpose of all these different songs? Music is a wonderful tool, I know this; but what are we using it for? Why should bands or groups or artists be concerned about what people think of them or how their popularity will be affected by one thing or another? I'm sorry if I'm being too blunt, but are these singers more concerned about doing what they believe is right or putting money in their pockets? I ask this question sincerely because I honestly don't know the answer.
ClaecElric4God wrote: Back to the topic at hand. What is the purpose of worship music in church? A recurring theme in this thread is "such-and-such music just doesn't do it for me". Holdup. What I'm about to say is hard for me to say because I. Love. Music. A lot. Music has had and probably always will have a huge influence in my life. But when it comes to music in church, music in the place where we claim to have come together to worship God, music we blatantly call worship music, I have to give myself a reality check. Why do I think it's about me? We're sort of acting like the very people we're condemning for being narcissistic and shallow by fussing about the fact that we don't feel emotionally invested in this music. And maybe this is where you differentiate between music you sing at church and music you listen to at home or sing to yourself in the shower. I dunno. But my point is, Christians are missing the point of worship, I think. The song leader, worship team, special singers, whoever, shouldn't have to be focusing on what makes the congregation feel good or satisfied. Worship is supposed to be about God.
ClaecElric4God wrote: Going back to my point, I think the question of "what is the purpose of worship music" is bigger than I or anyone else can answer. I rather think it's different for each of us, and I frankly don't know whether that's good or bad.
ClaecElric4God wrote: For me, I've recently been trying to bring myself back to the idea that it's about God, and I want to make sure my heart is right towards God as I sing or listen to it. Because there are a lot of times where I can't sing the lyrics of a song in church, not because I disagree with them but because they are so real and meaningful that I get lost in its truth or even convicted of shortcomings in my life, and find myself more inclined to bow my head and give reverence to my God than to try to sing. I know a young lady who is uncomfortable singing the old hymn "I Surrender All" because to her, surrendering all to the Lord Jesus Christ is a big deal, not just something you sing about lightly. There usually isn't anything hypnotic or overpoweringly emotional about 20-some people singing "Rescue the Perishing" with an out of tune piano, but I can still find myself lost for words when we reach the verse:
Down in the human heart, crushed by the tempter,
Feelings lie buried that grace can restore;
Touched by a loving heart, wakened by kindness,
Chords that were broken will vibrate once more.
ClaecElric4God wrote: I've heard so many times "We all worship God in our own ways." But how about worshiping God in the way He wants to be worshiped? That's what I'm striving for, to learn the heart of God and discover how He wants to be worshiped. I heard a song for the first time recently (that I think is pretty well known to everyone but me) that sort of slapped me in the face with it, The Heart of Worship.
ClaecElric4God wrote: If I have trouble with contemporary music, it's usually because I feel the lyrics misrepresent what it truly is to be a Christian (because no, it's not always sunshine and rainbows), I find them doctrinally disagreeable, or my conservative roots flair up and I don't care for the music style. [...] Ultimately, I feel that for myself, traditional hymns are the deepest and most meaningful of Christian music. They tend to be filled with more Biblical truth, point more strongly towards God and away from ourselves, and frankly they were written by Christians stronger and more deeply dedicated to the service of God than a lot of the artists Christianity is churning out today.
ClaecElric4God wrote: Like Midori, I generally find more personal pleasure and edification in instrumental music. [...] For another, being very sensitive to music and the different emotions it expresses, I find it very easy to connect to it and spend time thinking while I'm listening to it. It's easier for me to split myself between instrumental music and something else than music with lyrics where I have to pay attention to what people are saying and share the exact emotion of the singer. Maybe I'm a weirdo, but I love listening to music while I pray. To me, it's spending time with God while enjoying his beautiful creation of music. Maybe I'm guilty of using music to get on a spiritual high, I dunno.
ClaecElric4God wrote: At this point I'm really just rambling, so I'll shut up now. This was going to be like...three sentences. As you can see, music is a very important topic to me.
I can't answer the question of what my favorite song is, because there are soooooooooooo many. It's constantly changing. But I do love Come Thou Fount, for the very same lines you mentioned.
Nate wrote:We're sort of acting like the very people we're condemning for being narcissistic and shallow by fussing about the fact that we don't feel emotionally invested in this music.
I don't recall anyone in this thread condemning anyone for being narcissistic and shallow. I have a bad memory though, so maybe I'm just forgetting where someone said it? I sorta feel like I would remember that.
Nate wrote:I've heard so many times "We all worship God in our own ways." But how about worshiping God in the way He wants to be worshiped?
I would bet that the way God wants to be worshiped is by our hearts and lives being committed to him. Not how good we sang in church on Sunday. I really doubt God's going to say "Well, you raised your kids with strong Christian values, gave generously to the church, helped organize community programs to minister to the poor, studied my word with fervor, and...uh oh, wait a minute, looks like you thought that Shine Jesus Shine wasn't a very good song and didn't care for it much, well, it's the pit of fire for you, sorry."
I mean I don't really recall a verse where God says "You must sing songs to me, lest you be in danger of the fires of Hell." I mean, there's verses that say that singing praises to God is good, and wonderful...but I don't recall it mentioning that they're mandatory. Again though, bad memory, so maybe I'm forgetting where that passage is.
Nate wrote:That's what I'm striving for, to learn the heart of God and discover how He wants to be worshiped.
And I don't think that's a bad thing, but I think the problem comes when you start judging others for not caring as much about music as you do and implying that maybe they're wrong for it.
Mullet Death wrote:I think that at Mass music should be based strongly on Gregorian chant and the organ and other more "traditional" instruments. [. . .] Traditional Catholic music and liturgical practices like the use of incense are therefore pretty well the best of worlds, invariably creating an appropriate atmosphere while not looking like a concert or circus.
I don't know if I contributed to the thread or not.
Kraavdran wrote:I would like to clarify that "protestant" is not really a uniformed structure of beliefs or service styles. Some even don't believe in music at all. Some use music as a solely intellectual (not emotional) drive.
Kraavdran wrote:Are you saying that talking about how people compare to God (for example, us dedicating ourselves to God or, in a healthy way, humbling ourselves before Him) is bad? I'm not entirely certain how far you would take this.
Kraavdran wrote:I would really like to hear what you have to say about that [physicality in worship].
Kraavdran wrote:To what extent does music create divisions by making some people uncomfortable. For example, singing about how events Revelation have already happened (preterism) or how women should not be in places of authority in church or men shouldn't have long hair (just to clarify, I'm talking about things that cause problems that would qualify as "non-essentials"). Maybe a more relatable example (which I might have mentioned earlier, I can't remember), I find some aspects of Calvinism particularly stifling in terms of spiritual growth/action. Would I really want to go to a church that sings about TULIP (or, if you are a calvinist, consider the opposite situation). Now, don't get me wrong. I think that this can be taken to the extreme to the point where you have watered-down words on a page. And, I recognize, that you might be a person who really needs specific/elaborate theology worked into worship. I can't really say if there is a "certainly good" or "certainly bad" in those terms. What are your thoughts on that? I kinda feel torn between the two extremes, to be honest.
Kraavdran wrote:It sounds like you may have had experiences with churches who expect people to have emotional experiences (perhaps on the more charismatic spectrum).
Kraavdran wrote:Now, I don't know about your situation, but it does make me wonder. Is that a problem with the songs or the church/worship-team with which you experienced the need to feel emotional? If you think that it is the songs, what specifically about the songs could be changed? Or is it something you find inherent in the musical medium itself?
Kraavdran wrote:I think that I view music in a similar light as you view chant... all semantics aside. After all, without the musical aspect of music, you are just left with easier-to-follow (at least for me) chant.
Kraavdran wrote:I have had quite an experience with different worship songs, having church-hopped for a few years and attended a Christian university. Every once in a while, we did sing a (non-hymn) song that was surprisingly rich in helpful metaphor and meaning.
Kraavdran wrote:I have to wonder, now. In terms of worship songs (ones typically sung at church), do you think they should try to stay towards the more positive, God-only genres?
Today He who hung the earth upon the waters is hung upon the cross.
Today He who hung the earth upon the waters is hung upon the cross.
Today He who hung the earth upon the waters is hung upon the cross.
He who is King of the angels is arrayed in a crown of thorns.
He who wraps the heaven in clouds is wrapped in the purple of mockery.
He who in the Jordan set Adam free receives blows upon His face.
The Bridegroom of the Church is transfixed with nails.
The Son of the Virgin is pierced with a spear.
We venerate Thy Passion, O Christ.
We venerate Thy Passion, O Christ.
We venerate Thy Passion, O Christ.
Show us also Thy glorious Resurrection.
Few were the words that the thief uttered upon the Cross, yet great was the faith that he showed. In one moment he was saved: he opened the gates of Paradise and was the first to enter in. O Lord, who hast accepted his repentance, glory to Thee.
Christ is risen from the dead, trampling down death by death, and upon those in the tombs bestowing life.
Kraavdran wrote:Again with my example with God's love being "a hurricane and we are the trees."
ClaecElric4God wrote:I really liked that chant you linked, Kaori.
Kraavdran wrote:All these things aside, it kinda makes me wonder if musical worship should even be a part of a church service. What do you guys think? I can see some real nice pros for removing music from churches. But, at the same time, that idea grates against my sense of what is good.
Kraavdran wrote:What if we are being too critical? What if we are nit-picking the words or beat?
ClaecElric4God wrote:Because there are a lot of times where I can't sing the lyrics of a song in church, not because I disagree with them but because they are so real and meaningful that I get lost in its truth or even convicted of shortcomings in my life, and find myself more inclined to bow my head and give reverence to my God than to try to sing.
Nate wrote:As for memories tied to it, almost all worship songs have the memories of "Me standing up at church looking at a lyric sheet, sometimes hoping I wasn't singing really loud because my singing voice is terrible." Not really particularly inspirational memories! [. . .] Since I'm singing, my mind is focused more on "Make sure I'm singing the right words" than actually thinking about what the words mean.
ClaecElric4God wrote:Maybe I'm guilty of using music to get on a spiritual high, I dunno. But I also know that there are times I've really got down to brass tacks and poured out my heart to God while listening to music.
Nate wrote:But shouldn't worship be, I don't know, actual worship? If I'm just standing there singing half-heartedly, how is that worship? How is that pleasing to God? Well, it probably isn't. But if I don't have the emotional capacity for it to be more than that, then what is there to do? I could fake it, I guess. But God would know I was faking it, so that'd be pointless too, so now I don't have a good way out. Either I just sing not being emotionally invested, which means I get condemned by people for "not caring about worship" or I pretend that I'm emotionally invested which makes me a liar in the eyes of God. Kind of a tough choice!
Nate wrote:I would bet that the way God wants to be worshiped is by our hearts and lives being committed to him. Not how good we sang in church on Sunday. I really doubt God's going to say "Well, you raised your kids with strong Christian values, gave generously to the church, helped organize community programs to minister to the poor, studied my word with fervor, and...uh oh, wait a minute, looks like you thought that Shine Jesus Shine wasn't a very good song and didn't care for it much, well, it's the pit of fire for you, sorry."
Xeno wrote:Definitely the former of the two scenarios. I grew up in a really conservative (morally) Protestant denomination, and they definitely did not like the "bands whose members are Christians" because all of the music wasn't about god. I, thusly, see christian bands and the other group to be separate types of bands/music, but I certainly believe the latter group should be just as included as the former as far as what Christians should feel is acceptable to listen to.
Nate wrote:Weird stuff! Video game remixes. And can't forget those rap/hip hop and anime mashups. I also listen to what is affectionately referred to as "dad rock," you know, the stuff you hear on classic rock stations that isn't from the 90s, and occasionally classical/opera. But mostly the first two.
Mechana2015 wrote:Five Iron is probably my favorite Christian band to this day because of those types of songs.
mechana2015 wrote:Switchfoot- I like this band but they're another bland that just blurs together for me
ClaecElric4God wrote:I cannot fathom why Christian artists never seem to match the majesty and awesomeness of music like Two Steps from Hell, Audiomachine, AdrianvonZeigler, etc.
ClaecElric4God wrote:It's easier for me to split myself between instrumental music and something else than music with lyrics where I have to pay attention to what people are saying and share the exact emotion of the singer.
Kraavdran wrote:What if we are being too critical? What if we are nit-picking the words or beat? As a result, what if we are missing the whole purpose of group worship? The article I posted in the original post was about how the heartbeat of those in a choir synchronize. What if we are focusing on meaningless things where we should be focusing only on the community-building (or unifying) experience and worshipful direction of music?
ClaecElric4God wrote:What is the purpose of music in a Christian setting? Not the "official" definition, but to you personally, what is it? Why is it?
ClaecElric4God wrote:What is the purpose of all these different songs? Music is a wonderful tool, I know this; but what are we using it for? Why should bands or groups or artists be concerned about what people think of them or how their popularity will be affected by one thing or another? I'm sorry if I'm being too blunt, but are these singers more concerned about doing what they believe is right or putting money in their pockets?
Kraavdran wrote:Perhaps I should simply reduce everything I've said to these questions: What happens when (musical) worship does not feel worshipful? What is its purpose?
Kaori wrote:But I really wish that worship leaders had more discernment in choosing worship songs that have good, strong content rather than poorly-written but popular ones.
Kaori wrote:Mechana2015 wrote:Five Iron is probably my favorite Christian band to this day because of those types of songs.
Yeah, they were one of my top three favorite bands at one time, and the fact that they have intelligent, humorous lyrics, often with very good spiritual content (but not in a candy-coated way) is a big part of the reason for that. But eventually I just grew out of punk and ska and can't listen to those genres with much enjoyment anymore (nowadays if I were to list my favorite bands, they would mostly be metal).
Kaori wrote:mechana2015 wrote:Newsboys
What do you think about "Lost the Plot"? I don't have an extensive acquaintance with the Newsboys' discography, but I found this song to be powerful.
Kaori wrote:mechana2015 wrote:Skillet
The album Collide is by far my favorite of theirs. I stopped following them after Comatose, but I generally enjoy everything before that. (Minus their worship album, which I just haven't heard.)
I'll have to make a note of those electronica bands you listed and check them out; that's a genre that I mildly enjoy but just never really got into.
These are also not going to be the same genre as what you listed by any means, but Rivertribe, which was already mentioned, is really good. I’d recommend the album Did You Feel the Mountains Tremble? (This is a case of they can be considered Christian because at least some of their music is instrumental versions of praise songs.)
Kaori wrote:So, it is a little bit ironic that when naming all of those bands in my previous post I actually left out my favorite band, Extol. The reason is because despite being a metal band Extol does tend to be extremely centered on God in their lyrics, often in a positive way, although they do have several songs that address the darker side of things (e.g. “Tears of Bitterness” is a song of doubt which asks questions of God but does not offer any answers). Anyways, they didn’t exactly seem to fit into the category of “bands that focus primarily on the darker side of human life and experience” or “bands who sing about a large variety of topics other than God.”
But as an excuse to bring their music into this thread, I'm going to go back to one of the original questions that was brought up (favorite song).
For me, classical music and popular/rock music are two separate categories, and I really can't compare them. But out of all music that isn't classical music, this is my favorite song:
Jesus Kom Til Jorden For Å Dø (lyrics here)
Kraavdran wrote:Perhaps, in that way, it could be analogous to those who worship through interpretive dance... there isn't necessarily anything wrong with it (and there can be lots of good that comes from it)... but it isn't right for me because it isn't a way that I can worship.
To clear up any confusion, I think we did mention that much of CCM tends to be self-focused and watered-down. Or something along those lines. I think that is what is being commented on.
Nate wrote:So, Nate, can I summarize (and make sure I understand) what you are saying: We can't really know how God wants to be worshiped, but we do know that He wants us to live lives committed to Him. If that is correct, I think that I can agree. I can't say for certain how God wants us to worship Him.
Honestly, I didn't get that vibe. I just thought that that quote was used to describe his personal journey and how he might best be able to worship God.
I've heard so many times "We all worship God in our own ways." But how about worshiping God in the way He wants to be worshiped?
Kaori wrote:I'm curious about which denominations don't use music at all (because that is something I have not come across) and which ones you would see as using music primarily in an intellectual way.
I wrote:I ask this question sincerely because I honestly don't know the answer.
Nate wrote:I would bet that the way God wants to be worshiped is by our hearts and lives being committed to him. Not how good we sang in church on Sunday.
Kaori wrote: You're right, of course. I used to be a Protestant and usually try to be sensitive to the variety of beliefs and practices within Protestantism when talking about it, but I was painting with broad strokes there, sorry.
Just for the sake of my own knowledge, I'm curious about which denominations don't use music at all (because that is something I have not come across) and which ones you would see as using music primarily in an intellectual way.
Kaori wrote: You bring up a good distinction, and one that I tend to forget about because so much Orthodox music does not make any mention of the singer/speaker.
Basically, I would say that things that focus on talking about the worshipper's emotions or what the worshipper is doing, like "I'm so in love with you" or "I'm filled with awe" or "I feel like dancing" or whatever are not what worship should be. If people are able to sing such things while sincerely feeling those feelings for God, then that's not a bad thing, but the songs can easily be counterproductive because the focus is on the worshipper (and also it will be an alienating experience for anyone who doesn't feel those emotions at that particular moment). […] So the short answer is no, I don't think that an exhortation to do good or songs of humbling ourselves before God are bad; I would say those are both good things to do.
Kaori wrote: This goes back to something I *think* I mentioned above about how there's more to the human person that the mind and the emotions. The physical body is also an integral part of who we are (we are not souls that have bodies; we are soul-and-body, and persons are bodies just as much as they are souls). So for one thing, we have things in our services that appeal to all five senses.
Kaori wrote: So in a Protestant service one might sing a song that says "We bow down," but I have never seen anyone actually do this in a Protestant service. We would say "We bow down," but we wouldn't literally do it. But in an Orthodox service, we have some times when we sing things like, "Before your cross we bow down," and we really do bow down when we sing that.
Kaori wrote: She said to me, "Even if I don't feel like worshipping, at least I can be obedient with my body."
Kaori wrote: Or to use a more general example (one that applies to other Christians, not just to Orthodox), when people do feel strong emotion in worship, it's very understandable that, for at least some people, they want to express that in a physical way, like by raising their hands. Basically, it is good for worship to be able to be expressed physically and to involve the body, also, because then more of the whole person is involved, the body as well as the mind/emotions.
Kaori wrote: Now, this is a specifically Orthodox distinction, but I'm going to use it because I feel that it is helpful in distinguishing between two separate things. We use the word "theology" only to refer to statements about God himself. So that would be Trinitarian theology and Christology. Other Christian teachings we would call "doctrine," so we don't say "theology of the Fall" or "theology of sin" or "theology of hell," we would say that we have doctrines about those things.
Kaori wrote: So an Armenian walks into a Christian Reformed church and he feels uncomfortable because the Sunday School has the kids come up and sing a kid’s song that teaches the kids what TULIP stands for. Well, he should be uncomfortable! The feeling of discomfort is there to tell him, “This church teaches something different than what I believe.” That whole church is going to have an emphasis and theology that’s very different from the Armenian’s, so if he doesn’t feel uncomfortable during the worship songs, he’s going to start feeling uncomfortable after listening to a sermon or two and hearing the Calvinist emphasis and flavor come out in the pastor’s teaching. And if you want to get rid of anything doctrinally specific in not just the worship but also the teaching of the church, then all you are going to be left with is a bunch of churches that cannot say anything other than, “Jesus is my friend” or “God is love.” Everyone will only be getting milk, not solid food, because you cannot go very deep at all into teaching about Christianity without getting into some kind of statement that some other kind of Christian is going to disagree with. And then anyone who is at all intellectual and requires something to mentally chew on is going to say to himself or herself, “If Christianity is this trite and banal, it cannot possibly be true” and walk out. (Really! I’m not trying to make a slippery slope; I’m just pointing out that if you take all the doctrinal content out of worship and the teaching both, then that really is how people will react who need something intellectually satisfying.)
Kaori wrote: The way that we ought to be taking to strive for greater unity is to come to a greater understanding of what the truth about God really is. So imagine a circle, with a point at the center and an edge around the outside. A true understanding of God is the center. We are all at various points around the outside of the circle (and actually not at equidistant points; some are closer than others). If we want to get closer to each other, the way to do so is for all of us to get closer to the center. In other words, we should be striving towards the truth. And that doesn’t necessarily mean that we should strive for more and more minute doctrinal minuteness, but it does mean that our response to the fact that there are differences among Christian denominations needs to be to try to dialogue with each other to come to an agreement, not just sweep things under the rug.
Kaori wrote: I don’t think worship songs should do that. For one thing, it’s not about God, it’s about the worshipper. For another thing, you have songs that say things like, “Oh, I feel like dancing” (this is a real song and actually one that I like a lot), and if you have someone in the congregation who realizes, “Wait a minute, I don’t feel like dancing, though!” then you’re creating a conflict for them and they’re going to experience some cognitive dissonance if they sing along, because then they’re singing something that is not a true description of their emotional state. If instead we just sang stuff like “Holy, Holy, Holy Lord of Sabaoth, heaven and earth are full of your glory,” we wouldn’t have that problem.
So, Kraavdran, looking at your question again: It’s the lyrics of the songs. It wasn’t any problem with the worship leaders or with music itself. Did that all answer your question, or is there anything else you’d like more clarification on?
Kaori wrote: I do want to clarify that although I feel that Orthodox worship in general, and chant in particular, is not designed with the goal of arousing emotions, that does not mean that I don't ever feel emotion while listening to or singing chant. On the contrary, the emotions are often very involved--but it is not the goal of chant to produce emotion. It's a little hard to explain, so I think I will just leave it at that.
Kaori wrote: When you say "positive," I wonder if we're starting to conflate worship music used in church with the capital-C CCM (to borrow Mech's term), the stuff that plays on K-LOVE, which we've all been complaining about.
Kaori wrote: Basically, worship is not about our own emotions (though there are a few exceptions here and there where emotions are mentioned, usually as an exhortation rather than a statement that assumes the emotion is already there).
Kaori wrote: I've been a bit reluctant to list specific examples of songs that exhibit the qualities that I think are unfortunate, either in worship music or CCM, because there's always the danger that I will end up execrating something that someone poured their soul into, with the best of intentions, and that expresses something very personal and very important for them about their walk with God.
This song is like that. The story behind it is that the songwriter who originally wrote the song had a very close friend who passed away, and he felt like he needed to be in a dialogue with God, and out of that prayer with God during a time when he was hurt and working through a lot of anger came this song.
So, actually, like you, Kraavdran, I have a lot of problems with the lyrics in the verses, like comparing the grace of God (something that is so good it exceeds comprehension) to drowning (something unequivocally bad), and some other things as well, and from a literary standpoint I don’t think they’re well-written. But I find that I’m reluctant to go into those things here because I feel bad about criticizing something that I know was so personal and important to the person who wrote the song and I’m not sure what benefit such a critique would have. (Would it edify those who are reading? I’m not sure about that.)
Kaori wrote: The Orthodox church fathers almost decided not to use music in worship at all because it is so prone to emotional excess that the emotion can become the driving force and distract people from the message. Fortunately for all church music ever written, the Arians were going around promulgating their teachings with catchy jingles, so the church fathers decided after some deliberation that there needed to be something to counteract that and also that it should be used because (for most people) music touches something really deep within us and can help us enter more fully into the prayers. So I absolutely do think that worship should be a part of music. "He who sings prays twice," one of the Church Fathers said (I think Augustine).
So my short answer would be “yes.” I can see how for you not having songs would not be much of a loss, since music just does not do for you what it does for other people. But please have some compassion on those of us for whom music is deeply meaningful and don’t deprive us of worship music utterly.
Kaori wrote:Kraavdran wrote: What if we are being too critical? What if we are nit-picking the words or beat?
Honestly, this is a really difficult issue, because any one church cannot be everything to everyone. […] I really feel badly for people on both sides of this spectrum and wish that there were something we could do that meets the needs of both. […] But I also think, purely from a practical and realistic standpoint, if we're talking about musical style, like whether to sing hymns or whether worship should be like a rock concert or whether it should be that really bland church-music-with-guitar-and-drums, there really does come a point where you have to just accept a musical style that you don't like. […] So it is just impossible for any one congregation to have a worship style that will please everyone. […] I guess there is a difference between people who are trying but genuinely have a hard time following a certain style of music, like “Man, I’m trying to concentrate but my mind just totally checks out when we repeat the same phrase over and over again” or “I’m trying to sing along, but I just find those hymns really hard to follow” and people who just have musical preferences and dislike a certain musical style. And it’s more in the latter case where we sometimes have to realize that worship isn’t about us and our preferences and set that aside. In the former case, I really don't know what to say other than "That's really hard and I feel sympathy for you.") […] On the other hand I think there is a lot of room for worship leaders to be thoughtful and use discernment--especially in terms of lyrics, but also in terms of presentation.
Kaori wrote: consider giving attentive listening a shot, because it sounds like for you the fact that you are singing and you think your singing is bad is a distraction that is hindering you more than it is helping you.
Mechana2015 wrote: I think that Christian art should be striving for high quality, high value of production, and high levels of innovation. The highest really if you want me to be totally honest since we are creating art to orient the audience towards, comment on or tell stories about the Most High God. Do I expect that just to miraculously happen overnight? Not really, but a community that wasn't afraid to critique and press forward with improvements would be a nice. We should admit we are imperfect beings serving a perfect being, but acknowledge that being imperfect does not mean that we should just be 'good enough'.
Mechana2015 wrote:Criticism could be one response, with a hope for improvement. Acknowledgement of personal opinion or taste could be another, which I know could get tricky since people will just say 'it's not your taste in music'. To that I say... You can tell the difference between a Rembrandt and a stick figure. You can usually tell when something is well executed and not your style, as opposed to being poorly done.Kraavdran wrote: Perhaps I should simply reduce everything I've said to these questions: What happens when (musical) worship does not feel worshipful? What is its purpose?
What is its purpose? Again the responses vary. Much of it was probably just 'well meant but poorly executed'. It could be something that's offensive, or just outright copying. It could be musically devoid of life, a dirge about a happy subject. It's purpose is whatever the creator intended, but the real question is whether that purpose is passed on to the audience.
Nate wrote: To defend music as a form of worship: I think that music can be a useful tool for teaching. As was already mentioned, many old hymns have statements of what God is like, what God wants, what God is capable of...it's a method of teaching about God. There are a lot of different learning styles, and some people are more receptive to others. I personally prefer stuff like sermons […] So yeah, music is good for learning.
Nate wrote:Kraavdran wrote: So, Nate, can I summarize (and make sure I understand) what you are saying: We can't really know how God wants to be worshiped, but we do know that He wants us to live lives committed to Him. If that is correct, I think that I can agree. I can't say for certain how God wants us to worship Him.
That's not really what I was saying, no. What I was saying is that how we live our lives is a form of worship itself. Imagine a person who writes beautiful hymns, sings wholeheartedly in church, is really committed to praising God in music...but he also hates the poor, is extremely racist, he's constantly acting like a jerk in public, sleazily hitting on women and making sexual and sexist comments towards them, gets drunk constantly...do you think such a person is really truly worshiping God? Does the fact he composes and sings music beautifully make up for how he is in his life? I would say no, because the true worship is in how we act towards others.
ClaecElric4God wrote: My ultimate point was that worship is about God, not about music. If you can use music to worship God, that's great! If you have a hard time enjoying or applying music to worship, then that doesn't exclude you from worshiping God the "right" way, or even the "best" way. There are lots of ways to worship God, I believe. Because worship comes from the heart, not the talent or enjoyment level. If your heart's right, I believe it all comes together from there.
ClaecElric4God wrote:Ah, Nate. Punctual as ever.
Also, no, the family I mentioned is supported entirely by the churches they visit and none of them have other jobs. "Their only income" means "their only income". =P
Hm, I guess we both read the posts here differently. Statements like "Christian music has difficulty dealing with darker topics", "simplified and candy-coated", "cheesy religious songs", "lyrically uninspiring", "focused on the worshiper", "self-focused instead of God-focused", and a handful of others were what led me to feel that we (and I say we honestly, because I don't disagree with the statements made) were labeling certain Christian music as narcissistic and shallow.
There, that's four cents and you're not getting any more.
Nate wrote:Now see, this makes sense to me. CCM appeals to a very specific set of folks and songs about the things I'm talking about just flat out would not appeal to the audience CCM is going for. I do however think that there is definitely a niche market for music for say, Christian anarchists or communists...I mean, those groups do exist and at least some of them probably listen to music, right?
Kraavdran wrote:But, I think that music can't be used to teach like it once was. Not with the abundant sources of information available to us and plentiful copies of the Bible in a common language.
Kraavdran wrote:Music minus lyrics minus chords leaves... nothing.
Kraavdran wrote:Is it ok to use someone else's words? How actively should you try to make them your own?
Kraavdran wrote:What if, and this happens often, the words just make you feel like you are mocking God... or perhaps encourage an unhealthy sense of pride?
Kraavdran wrote:Fun fact though, did you know that there is no reference to music being played/sung in Heaven in the Bible. Just references to people "shouting." Not that you can base a doctrine on that or anything. Just a fun fact that I like to tease people about.
Nate wrote:Apparently they sung everything a cappella. The reason for this, apparently, is that there are no verses in the New Testament that mention using instruments or music to praise God.
Kraavdran wrote:In terms of denominations that have a rigid/limited view of worship, there is a "non-denominational" church locally that doesn't believe in the use of instruments during church. I think a specific group (if not the whole group) of the "Church of Christ." That's mostly what I was referring to.
Kraavdran wrote:Although, reading your example of a humbling/penitential song, we might find some slightly differing views in what it would look like. I think that your example, "I have stained my soul with terrible sins. I have spent my whole life slothfully," sounds a bit dramatic and ignores God's work in us. But that might just be a matter of interpretation and I consider it to be ok, within my margin of understanding/accepting.
Kraavdran wrote:I can really respect that, although I would personally probably find it distracting (or, perhaps worse, controlling and/or obligatory).
Kraavdran wrote:I can understand that people might say "it is a psychological bowing down, not physical." And if that works for them, that's fine.
Kraavdran wrote:Some people, perhaps the ones that lead with their cognitions, instead of feelings or actions, don't gain benefit from this. I think that this is true for myself.
Kraavdran wrote:But, be forewarned, I may forget.
Kraavdran wrote:If I understand you correctly, it might not be bad for a person to sing something like, "I see that God is so majestic that I feel like dancing." But this would be a more situational experience for an individual (perhaps as listening music to convey the singers experience, not as a communal worship song).
Xeno wrote:There is a whole bunch of text in this thread from the last few days that I didn't read, but I did see a bit about Skillet being "a good band" and I'd like to argue that they aren't.
Kaori wrote: Sorry to take such a long time to reply to this thread. I've been a bit busy IRL. -.-
Kaori wrote:Oh man. This is another point where I’m going to have to respectfully disagree with you.
Maybe I’m misunderstanding you, but just because we do have the Bible available in our language now, I don’t see why we can’t also still get Christian teaching from other sources as well. The source of our disagreement is going to have its root in your view about the authority of tradition, which I’m sure is very different from mine, but still, just because “y is a source of information” does not mean “x is no longer a source of information.” Why can’t we get information from both? ... If we had had songs like this, then maybe they would have had better doctrinal formation and would not have been so confused.
Kaori wrote:Kraavdran wrote:Music minus lyrics minus chords leaves... nothing.
Well, don’t subtract the lyrics. :p You’ve listed the two things are that are valuable in music—the two things that, put together, make music—and then said, “well, if we get rid of these two things that music is made of, we have nothing left.” That’s like saying, “What is ice water if you take away the ice and the water?”
Kaori wrote:Kraavdran wrote:What if, and this happens often, the words just make you feel like you are mocking God... or perhaps encourage an unhealthy sense of pride?
Again that is exactly why we shouldn’t use songs in worship that are talking about what a good emotional state we (the worshippers) are in.
Kaori wrote:Kraavdran wrote:Fun fact though, did you know that there is no reference to music being played/sung in Heaven in the Bible. Just references to people "shouting." Not that you can base a doctrine on that or anything. Just a fun fact that I like to tease people about.
Erm, Revelation 15:3? I just looked at it in an interlinear Bible, and that verb seems to pretty clearly be “singing.” But as you said I don’t think there’s much of a case to be made from the fact that, for example, the angels “say” the thrice-Holy, and so on. Those things are written in verse form (poetry), and generally anything in the NT that is written in verse form is understood to be a canticle, a song, and a large portion of them were used in early Christian worship and were written down in the Bible word-for-word according to how they were sung in worship. So there were these songs used in Christian worship, and they wrote them down in the Bible in verse form. Sorry I can’t give a citation, but it was something I heard in a sermon from a Catholic priest who was super-intelligent and seemed to have an extremely strong historical knowledge.
And in our tradition we have a story of someone who saw a vision of heaven in which the angels were singing a certain song; when he came back he taught it to everyone else, and nowadays we still sing this song every week in the Divine Liturgy and recite it in all our other services.
Kaori wrote: Oh, so by churches that don’t have music, you mean churches that don’t have instruments in their worship. That I am totally familiar with; I’ve experienced some Churches of Christ worship, which is a cappella, and also a lot of Mennonites don’t use instruments (though the Mennonite church that I attended for a few years did use instruments some of the time). The Orthodox also mostly do not use instruments and sing everything a cappella, though there are some exceptions, so that is not a hard-and-fast rule.
Kaori wrote:Although I could quote some other examples, I think you would find the other penitential songs that we sing to be similarly “dramatic.” However, unfortunately you don’t have the ability to see those lines I’ve quoted within the context of the whole teaching and atmosphere of Orthodoxy, which makes a huge difference. Actually, rather than limiting God’s work in us, I can definitely say that Orthodoxy is far, far more optimistic both about human nature itself, e.g. whether “human nature” should be considered good or bad, depraved or not depraved, and so on, and about the potential of what human beings have the potential to become through God’s grace. But it’s really interesting, along with that very striking optimism, Orthodoxy also encourages each individual to see in himself or herself the worst sins of humanity and to take upon oneself responsibility for the sins of humanity. This partly has to do with doctrine about humans having a shared human nature, the gross oversimplification of which is basically we are all connected, so we cannot totally disassociate ourselves with the sins of others, and each person’s life, whether they live sinfully or righteously, brings all of humanity higher or lower [...] But the Orthodox services—I don’t know what another person’s reaction would be to them, but all I can say is that I never felt like the Church was imposing some sort of guilt trip on me and doing things deliberately for the sake of trying to make me feel guilty. It is just not like that.
Kaori wrote:It isn't obligatory. My first thought when I saw everyone prostrate at once was "That doesn't look optional," but when I expressed that thought to the priest, he immediately said, "Actually, it is optional." No one has to do anything they don't feel comfortable with. [...] There are some places in the service where almost everyone does it, and there are other places where maybe half do and half do not, depending on the individual. It is really a personal, individual thing, and different individuals express their reverence in somewhat varying ways. So it is not controlling at all; it feels very organic and natural, people bowing and/or making the sign of the cross in the way they want to, and to some extent when they want to, within certain guidelines (i.e. there are times where we would say it is good to make the sign of the cross, or one can make the sign of the cross, so people will do so at those particular times, not just at any random time).
Kaori wrote: Hmm, I can agree that if the "psychological bowing" works for those people, that is a good thing. But I wouldn't particularly say that those things are equal. The person who is able to physically bow while worshipping with his or her mouth is integrating and bringing into union multiple parts of the human person (the mind/emotions and the body), so more of the whole person is involved, and it is more holistic, whereas for the person who is "psychologically bowing," there is a separation going on between the mind/emotions and the body. A guy who loves his girlfriend probably isn’t going to say, “For me, I just imagine kissing my girlfriend, and I have a mental attitude of embracing her, and that works for me.” If in your mind, psychologically, you love a person romantically, then probably it’s going to be a lot more meaningful if you can actually physically kiss and embrace them, right? For me, expressing reverence in a physical way is deeply satisfying (BTW this applies to things outside church also, e.g. bowing to people in Japanese cultural settings), and that's not something I get from just singing the line "We bow down" while trying to have a psychological attitude of reverence and humility but remaining in a physical position that connotes boldness and confidence (standing) or even casualness and relaxation (sitting).
To acknowledge the other side, though, if for anyone physically bowing becomes something that hinders them for any reason, e.g. it's just too distracting for them or for some reason it is drawing them further away from God, of course for that person it would be better not to bow.
Kaori wrote:Kraavdran wrote:Some people, perhaps the ones that lead with their cognitions, instead of feelings or actions, don't gain benefit from this. I think that this is true for myself.
To categorize people into "logical" and "emotional" and to make a hard dichotomy between those two is a mistake; everyone has both logic and emotions, though some personality inventories will have a category for which is stronger, thinking of feeling. But reason and emotion are actually far more intrinsically intertwined than we tend to think they are (for further reference see the book Descartes’ Error).
Also physical worship is not a primarily emotional thing. I brought in the example of raising one's hands to try to give some representation/recognition to different forms of Christianity than the one I am speaking for, but I suppose that raising one's hands in worship is often tied to the very emotional services of Pentecostal churches and similar denominations. I am primarily thinking, more than feeling, and do not consider myself emotionally driven, nor are the physical motions we do in church emotional experiences for me. But I do gain quite a bit of benefit from it--besides which, more importantly, it is a way of giving honor and glory and respect to God. So, like good worship music, it is not totally about me and what it does for me; it's something I do in reverence for God.
Kaori wrote:Kraavdran wrote:But, be forewarned, I may forget.
No worries! I explained that mainly so that my own use of those two terms would be understood, not to make anyone else make that same verbal distinction. If you do, it's mildly helpful to me, but if you don't, it's nothing I'm not used to.
Kaori wrote:Kraavdran wrote:If I understand you correctly, it might not be bad for a person to sing something like, "I see that God is so majestic that I feel like dancing." But this would be a more situational experience for an individual (perhaps as listening music to convey the singers experience, not as a communal worship song).
Yes: it is neither a bad thing to write the song nor to sing it, and on the contrary I’m sure that it’s a good thing both for the person who sincerely wrote it and for anyone who is sincerely able to sing it. But I think because of the excessive emotional emphasis and potential disjunction between the lyrics and people's actual feelings we should probably not use these in communal worship.
Zeke365 wrote:let me ask this to everyone if contemporary music was to change from what it is to something new would you accept it or refute it? Think about the question before responding sink it in.
Zeke365 wrote:yes you put in more perspective that what I was asking would any of you be willing to accept the change in the music or would you rather keep the style of music the way it is (what we call contemporary music)?
should have phrase that better I m not talking church music I m talking about the main topic on the tread though it could be considered church music to.
Jonathan wrote: Honestly I prefer worship without music more but that's just me.
Jonathan wrote:I am talking about worship with no music at all whether acapalla or with music. The reason I prefer worship without hymns or any songs is because I get nervous and uncomfortable when I hear music in public with other people. I prefer to hear music privately by myself with no one around.
Jonathan wrote:As for CCM I'm not that big of a fan, It has similar problems imho that that secular modern rock/alterrnative/indie music has, Mainly being that the songs are too average and overly simplistic for me.
I'm more into Classic Rock than Modern Rock/Punk, I'm also really into Prog Rock and Metal (Unless it's Grindcore or Deathcore or Metalcore.)
Xeno wrote:there is modern top 40 rock that is just a single verse repeated for four minutes
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