Monday, January 14, 2008

Music Stream of Consciousness

I'm making dinner--just mac and cheese tonight--and listening to a Fernando Ortega CD. Normally he's a little mellow for my taste, but this particular CD has several hymns on it that I love!

Be Thou My Vision has to be one of the hymns I came across later in my life that just always gets me...could be my Irish heritage...the use of thou and naught ...or maybe just the urge to kick it old school style, but it's one of my favorites.

This past Sunday we actually sang one of my other favorites during our worship time; Great Is Thy Faithfulness. It wasn't quite the same with a slow, electric guitar and keyboards, instead of the grand piano, but you take what you can get in a contemporary service sometimes.

I started mentally compiling a list of hymns I actually like and miss singing:

Be Thou My Vision
Great Is Thy Faithfulness
Holy, Holy, Holy
It Is Well With My Soul
Immortal, Invisible
All Creatures of Our God and King
Fairest Lord Jesus
A Mighty Fortress Is Our God

That's all I could think of off the top of my head.

As I listened, I contemplated the roles of music in the church, remembering all those Baptist arguments that older people in the church would make against the use of modern worship and praise. Every once in a while I bump into a site, or person, that is still interested in fighting over what style of music is honoring to God and appropriate for church. I scratch my head and think, "Are we still arguing about this?"

Every hymn was new once upon a time. Every style of music was once considered strange and bizarre. Gregorian chant isn't going to make its way back into every day church life. But, I get it sometimes. When I enter church and the youth band is alt rockin' it out at a million decibels, I have a hard time feeling very worshipful. I guess that's just the way it is. You get older and start sounding like people you used to scoff at. heh.

Is worship music corny sometimes? yes. Is it mediocre sometimes? yes. But to those singing it is an expression of their heart however corny and mediocre it can be.

and speaking of mediocre

Occasionally, we will have dancers in the service--usually only for some special song or dramatic skit or something. It probably only happens about 2 or 3 times a year. I am not opposed to it in principle, but came up against some objections during our Christmas Eve service. There were four young teen girls dancing rather dramatically--except, they weren't very good. It was obvious two of them had actual dance experience, but one dancer in particular was completely lost and missing steps and just generally botching up her moves.

I felt bad for noticing...but it was hard not to notice.

I thought,"Wow...they should have held her out until she had practiced more." I caught myself and felt bad. After all, this was church, not American Idol. I wondered what I would have done if I had been the worship leader. Would I have called a young girl over and told her she wasn't very good, thereby completely crushing her....or would I grin and bear it and hope she pulled it out at the last minute?

Hmmm. That would be a choice I wouldn't want to make.

My next thought was that perhaps dancing just shouldn't be used simply because it is so visual that poorly executed dancing is far more noticeable than poorly executed singing. Both can be distracting, but the former is much more cringe-worthy. It requires a certain level of precision to be done well; precision that most local churches don't possess.

Is that too snarky?


Your Hubby said...

This is a tough issue. I'm all for diversity in the body of Christ when it comes to styles of worship, but I also have my own personal preferences. My challenge comes in when I have to decide how much priority I should give my worship preferences in my spiritual life. For example, I really don't like 95% of the worship in our current church. Most of the time I feel like I'm at a rock concert, and I do not in any way feel drawn closer to communion with God. For me, worship is about quieting one's mind, centering on God, and drawing close to Him. There are all kinds of music and songs that can do that for me -- some hymns and some contemporary -- but listening to an amped up rock band does not in any way do that for me. I find myself most Sundays struggling to control my wandering mind and struggling to focus on God in spite of the worship music. I know that God receives the praise He's offered when it comes from a sincere and worshipful heart, and I believe/hope that those rocking out for Him are doing so coming from that perspective and heart, but it's just not me.

As for the dancing, again, I like you have no major issue with the idea of including dance in a worship service. However, like you, I think it needs to be appropriate. In the service you described, not only was the one young lady not very good, but even the good dancers were dancing a very... well, to me, boring dance that didn't in any way match with or complement the worship music.

terri said...

boring?...well, yeah.

I think every dance they do is pretty much the same dance repeatd over and over until the music stops playing!


Jeanie said...

I'm doing administratvice work for a major music festival this summer in Denver and a dance ministry has approached us. This post cracked me up because you would not believe how much time we have spent emailing and debating whether we can or even want to utilize them. Scary, no?

But on the other hand, David's wife Michal didn't get to have kids because she ridiculed and despised his dancing and whirling before the Lord (2 Sam 6), so I am madly trying to find a way to fit this dance troupe in - weird or not!

terri said...

just audition them first! hehe :-)