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
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?