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Dare Say “Today’s Church Music Scene” Is Contaminated?

May 27 2006 at 9:27 PM
Donnie Cruz  (Login Donnie.Cruz)
ConcernedMembersMadison
from IP address 65.1.219.114


Who says that only “a cappella” churches of Christ are reacting to the postmodern “church music scene”? Look around! The article below brings to my attention some of the actual occurrences at my congregation. For example, where it says,

    “Then came the ‘praise time,’ for which we stood 25 minutes, and 40% of the congregation sang and swayed to chorus after chorus, none of which I had ever heard. As I stood, I wondered if the other 60% of the congregation felt as I felt … left out….”

Should I laugh or cry? You know, it’s not unusual that the entire contemporary assembly period could last up to 90 minutes. I have counted as many as 18 “praise” choruses and contemporary musical pieces during the entire [and for the most part musical] “worship service.” No, I shouldn’t laugh at the senior and disabled saints who stand for l-o-o-o-o-o-n-g minutes during “praise” music, and who get a chance to sit down only when the singing prior to the Lord’s Supper memorial begins.

Oh, well, I’ll probably have more to say about the sights and sounds of music later on. But for now, here is the article, keeping in mind that more likely its author is affiliated with another religious faith that uses instrumental accompaniment in worship. Can you imagine, with that background, what this author has to say about “today’s church music scene”?


_____________________________


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    Christian Music




    Today's Church Music Scene: 
    Contemporary or Contaminated

     


    During graduate school, my Music Theory professor made this statement: “What you hear today in the music of the world, you will hear in the church within twenty years.”

    Think about that statement as you listen to the music in local churches today. More importantly, think about the music of today’s world, and then picture this music in the church within twenty years.

    Where are we now in church music? And tell me, where are we going?

    As a former minister of music, and now as an owner / teacher in a school of music, I believe the trends that have developed in church music support my professor’s statement.

    For example, two months ago my wife and I visited a nearby local church, which has three morning services. We arrived early for the second service and entered as the praise band was playing the offertory at the end of the first service. We could have heard the same music at a Bourbon Street jazz club.

    We left that church before the second service began and drove to a church where we thought, at least by name and denomination, we would find a more traditional service. Again we arrived early. At this church, a drummer with electric drums and a pianist with a synthesizer were playing the Blues. This continued for about ten minutes, and then the other members of the “orchestra” entered, joining the Blues one at a time. Finally, the choir came in and physically joined the “swing and sway” as the tempo and volume increased.

    After the pastor presented the Call to Worship and prayed, the choir sang a beautiful, recently written anthem, which they performed excellently. Then came the “praise time,” for which we stood 25 minutes, and 40% of the congregation sang and swayed to chorus after chorus, none of which I had ever heard. As I stood, I wondered if the other 60% of the congregation felt as I felt ... left out, a stranger in the worship experience. And furthermore, this church publicly declared in the service and stated in their worship folder that visitors and guests were warmly welcomed.

    Is this typical? Is this where we are in church music today? With sadness, I believe it is. Because of our ministry of teaching, we visit many local churches. It seems that most are the same, whether associated with a denomination or independent of one. Church music mimics and often exceeds the musical sounds of the world.

    I am calling concerned and thinking Christians to action! We should not accept this style of music and worship without prayerfully and kindly letting our concerns, desires, and thoughts be known to our pastors, worship leaders (as ministers of music are now called), lay leaders, and those at the helm of our denominations. We may face careless responses, such as: “This is the way we are going. If you don’t like it, go somewhere else!” But regardless, we should let our concerns and desires be known.

    Many church leaders believe this is the only type of music that will reach people. I really wonder about that. Where will we be in the future if we are fed a steady diet of this style of music and worship?

    Please hear me, I’m not advocating that we discard all things contemporary. There is nothing wrong with a good, quality contemporary song. Just because the song was written recently doesn’t mean we shouldn’t use it. But there has also been much good, quality music written earlier than recently, and it shouldn’t be discarded either, simply because it isn’t current.

    My wife’s recent experience with one of her piano students is worth repeating. During a lesson with this fine student (who is faithful in her church youth and music programs), my wife recommended some piano arrangements she thought would contribute to the church’s music ministry. As my wife mentioned songs like Count Your Blessings, Showers of Blessings, He Touched Me, and Glorify Thy Name, the student confessed that she didn’t know the songs. How sad that, in many churches, we are not taught the standard hymns and gospel songs that have such meaning. We all need to know good, quality church music, whether old or new.

    Many Christian radio and television networks and stations also have embraced this style of worship. I am thankful that some have not. My experience tells me that the music and programming on radio and television will eventually find its way into the local church. Could it be that broadcasters and even music writers and publishers bear part of the responsibility for what is happening today in church music?

    A few days ago, I watched a telecast on a well-known Christian television network. A “prophet” was there with his band. With his style on the piano, plus the rhythm and sounds of the band and choir, I saw intelligent and educated people moved to a trance-like state by the power of the music. There was little, if any, Biblical content in the 35 to 40-minute segment I watched.

    Tell me, where are we going?

    My heart is broken when I see an emphasis on style and method, rather than Biblical teaching in church ministries and certainly in music programs.
    I fear that, rather than being contemporary, we are being contaminated.

    “Even in the case of lifeless things that make sounds, such as the flute or harp, how will anyone know what tune is being played unless there is a distinction in the notes? Again, if the trumpet does not sound a clear call, who will get ready for battle?”
    1 Corinthians 14:7 & 8


    - J. LaVerne Smith
    Verne and his wife, Jeannie, have great experience and talent in the field of music. For many years Verne was a minister of music in churches. They also have traveled doing music programs in churches and special meetings across the country.
    Verne joined BBN as the manager of our radio station in the Tampa, FL area. We often play some of Jeannie’s piano renditions on BBN. He and Jeannie were a blessing to many as they ministered in churches sharing the ministry of BBN. They have left BBN and have opened a school of music in Clermont, FL to share their God given talents and philosophy of quality music.


    Copyright © 2005 Bible Broadcasting Network.

 
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AuthorReply
Donnie Cruz
(no login)
65.1.219.114

Church Music: Contemporary or Contaminated?

May 27 2006, 9:32 PM 

Further observations from the article:

    Yes, the statement: “This is the way we are going. If you don’t like it, go somewhere else!” Sounds very familiar to me—it is very similar to what was announced at Madison: “Get over it; we must move on….”

    Here’s another one: “…I watched a telecast on a well-known Christian television network. … With his style on the piano, plus the rhythm and sounds of the band and choir, I saw intelligent and educated people moved to a trance-like state by the power of the music. There was little, if any, Biblical content in the 35 to 40-minute segment I watched [emphasis mine].”

    Right on, Ken Sublett! It is the same message you’ve been “informing” the doubters regarding the kind of music that makes the nerve endings tingle. I wonder if these folks are also going to reject and condemn this writer’s own evidences?

Donnie

 
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Max Moon
(no login)
67.172.94.145

And Another Thing

May 27 2006, 11:24 PM 

I don't like swaying and praise teams, however, I feel I must add something.

Many of today's old timey hymns, have tunes that were once popular in the bars of the time period they were written.

 
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Ken Sublett
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4.152.156.69

Urban Legend!

May 28 2006, 10:58 AM 

URBAN LEGEND! Alexander Campbell's song book had no notes and they were sung to one of five melodies. If you listen to the tunes of the Psaltery you will find none of them likely to have ever been used in a tavern. Besides all of that, singing as an ACT was added in the year 373 in order to sing the composers own writings.

Some people say that Luther used bar tunes, but Luther wrote his music himself. Some say his tunes called bar tunes because they had measure lines (bars) as opposed to the chants which had none.

"Of the melodies to Luther's 37 chorales, 15 were composed by Luther himself, 13 came from Latin hymns of Latin service music, 4 were derived from German religious folk songs, 2 had originally been religious pilgrims' songs, 2 are of unknown origin, and one came directly from a secular folk song." (Data compiled from Squire, pp. 446-447; Leupold, ed., Liturgy and Hymns; and Strodach, ed., Works of Martin Luther, VI)

"None of the works dealing with Luther's music can trace a single melody of his back to a drinking song." (Robert D. Harrell, Martin Luther, His Music, His Message, p. 34)

Luther did not use the barroom songs of his day, nor did he use even the worldly music of his day. In fact, he was extremely cautious in protecting the Word of God from any admixture of worldly elements. This can be seen in his words: 'I wish to compose sacred hymns so that the Word of God may dwell among the people also by means of songs.'" (Robert D. Harrell, Martin Luther, His Music, His Message, p. 36)

"Who changed the TRUTH of God into a LIE, . . ." (Romans 1:25)


I don't believe Luther composed songs for WORSHIP SERVICES.

 
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B
(no login)
70.238.52.123

Re: Urban Legend!

May 29 2006, 10:51 PM 

Alexander Campbell's songbook not only didn't have shaped notes but had no notes at all? How much would be written on this website about such a scandal if someone introduced such a songbook today?

5 Melodies? Would that make them 5-11 songs, Donnie?

 
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Donnie Cruz
(no login)
68.19.204.53

Re: Re: Urban Legend!

May 29 2006, 11:53 PM 

John,

Would you like to learn to read shaped notes? Really easy to learn, if you’re interested—just let me know.

No, it wouldn’t be a scandal … especially with the aid of current technologies in musicology. I think the 5 melodies would be classified as 5-11 songs—you are correct!!!

Do you have other irrelevant issues to discuss? I have the gut feeling that you have mastered numerous 7-11 Christian Hard Rock “Praise” musical pieces and singing them to teach and admonish one another.

Donnie

 
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Donnie Cruz
(no login)
68.19.204.53

“Bar Tunes”—a Misconception?

May 30 2006, 12:02 AM 

Max,

Personally, I would prefer those old-time “bar hymns” [even if so] to the silly-singy-clappy “Christian” Hard Rock “Praise” Music of our postmodern culture.

How much research have you done in regard to “bar/drinking” hymns? If time allows it, I would like to do this particular research. In fact, here’s an article I found online that may help explain what appears to be a “misconception” by many of your reference to “tunes that were once popular in the bars.”

What do you think about Smith’s article above?

What do you think of this article below?

Donnie


_______________________________

      Did the Wesleys Really Use Drinking Song Tunes for Their Hymns?

      by Dean B. McIntyre

      There is a popular misconception that continues to survive among United Methodists that John and Charles Wesley made use of tavern, drinking, or bar songs, as melodies for their hymns. The same is often heard of the great reformer and musician, Martin Luther. This claim is sometimes made to show the extent of their evangelistic zeal; namely, that they would go out into the secular culture, even into the taverns, saloons, and parlors frequented by the sinners they sought to redeem and make use of the musical language, the familiar drinking song tunes, for their own sacred hymns. The claim continues to be made today by some musicians, pastors, worship leaders, composers, and hymn writers. Unfortunately, this is a misapplication of a historical inaccuracy.

      Confusion of Terms

      The truth is that the Wesleys and Luther never made such use of saloon songs, nor would they have condoned such use. The misconception stems from confusion over a musical term — bar form. In German literature and music of the Middle Ages, "Bar" was a poem consisting of three or more stanzas. Each stanza was divided into two Stollen (section a) and one Abgesang (section b), which yielded a form of AAB. The term "bar form" is commonly used today to refer to any poem or musical composition in this AAB form, or any variation of bar form, such as AABA. A number of Luther's hymns and tunes used this form, including "A Mighty Fortress Is Our God." Other chorales ("Praise to the Lord, the Almighty") and hymns ("What a Friend We Have in Jesus," "Come, Christians, Join to Sing," "When I Survey the Wondrous Cross," "Rescue the Perishing") also use bar form. A number of tunes accompanying Wesley texts in the current United Methodist Hymnal also use bar form, including:

      • "Praise the Lord Who Reigns Above," UMH 96
      • "Thou Hidden Source of Calm Repose," UMH 153
      • "Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus," UMH 196
      • "Hail the Day That Sees Him Rise," UMH 312
      • "Love Divine, All Loves Excelling," UMH 384
      • "I Want a Principle Within," UMH 410
      • "See How Great a Flame Aspires," UMH 541
      • "Come, Let Us Use the Grace Divine," UMH 606
      • "O the Depth of Love Divine," UMH 627
      • "Because Thou Hast Said," UMH 635
      • "Give Me a Faith Which Can Remove," UMH 650
      • "Come, Let Us Join Our Friends Above," UMH 709
      • "Lo, He Comes with Clouds Descending," UMH 718

      It is not difficult to understand how the musical term, bar form, also sometimes referred to as bar tune, can become confused in an uninformed person's mind with barroom tune, drinking song, or some other title to indicate music to accompany the drinking of alcoholic beverages.

      The Wesleyan Aesthetic for Hymn Tunes

      There is also the deeper issue of whether the importing of secular and drinking songs into the church to accompany congregational singing would be acceptable to the Wesleys. Wesley issued three collections of tunes: the Foundery Collection in 1742, Select Hymns with Tunes Annext (in which first appears his celebrated "Directions for Singing," reprinted on page vii of The United Methodist Hymnal) in 1761, and his last, Sacred Harmony, in 1780. What we find in these collections yields an important insight into Wesley's musical aesthetic for hymn tunes. Here we find the simple, traditional psalm tunes and hymn melodies, primarily from Anglican song. A number of these survive in our own 1989 United Methodist Hymnal (nos. 60, 96, 142, 181, 302, 385, 414, 450, 682). However, many of Charles's texts were in increasing number and complexity of meter and required new sources for tunes to accompany them. John made use of new tunes composed or adapted from folk tunes, sacred and secular oratorio, and even operatic melodies. It should not escape us that whenever Wesley allowed the use of secular music — as from oratorio and opera — he used music of accepted high standard and almost always from classical rather than popular sources. In no instance did Wesley turn to tavern or drinking songs or other such unseemly sources to carry the sacred texts of songs and hymns.

      Another help to understanding what Wesley considered appropriate in hymn tunes is to be found in his "Directions for Singing." Of particular importance is a portion of his fourth direction: "Be no more afraid of your voice now, nor more ashamed of its being heard, than when you sung the songs of Satan." It is clear that Wesley intends the "songs of Satan" to no longer be sung. Also important is his seventh direction:

        "Above all sing spiritually. Have an eye to God in every word you sing. Aim at pleasing him more than yourself, or any other creature. In order to do this attend strictly to the sense of what you sing, and see that your heart is not carried away with the sound, but offered to God continually; so shall your singing be such as the Lord will approve here, and reward you when he cometh in the clouds of heaven."

      Wesley's aesthetic to "above all sing spiritually" simply would not allow drinking songs to accompany hymn texts.

      Finally, in no hymn book, tune book, or other publication of the Wesleys can there be found any example of or encouragement to use drinking songs for singing hymns.

      What About Today?

      The question still remains, "What about today? Just because Luther and the Wesleys didn't use drinking song tunes and other popular music for their hymns, does that mean we shouldn't?"

      Whether Wesley did or didn't use drinking songs is not really the issue. Rather, the issue is why Wesley did or didn't use them. Wesley found the close association of hymn text and tune (even commonly referred to as a "wedding") to be of such importance that the use of tavern songs was beneath consideration. It was never a possibility. That question remains for us to answer today. Do we find it acceptable, appropriate, and commendable to select the music of drunken sailors or the local tavern for our worship? If Wesley's reasoning for the Methodists of his time remains valid for our own, then the answer is no; and those who choose to use such music in worship should be able to dispute Wesley's practice convincingly. Further, those who justify in our day the use of secular culture and influences in United Methodist worship by claiming that Wesley used drinking songs in his own day should be called to account.

      For further discussion of this topic, see Dean McIntyre's article "Debunking the Wesley Tavern Song Myth", posted August 16, 2002.

      For Further Reading

      "Bar Form" entry in Harvard Dictionary of Music (2d edition, revised and enlarged) by Willi Apel (Cambridge, Mass.: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1969).

      "Bar Form" entry in Encyclopaedia Britannica

      Companion to The United Methodist Hymnal by Carlton R. Young (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1993).

      "John Wesley's Choice of Hymn Tunes" by Fred Kimball Graham (1988), The Hymn 39 (4):29-37.

      Sing with Understanding: An Introduction to Christian Hymnology by Harry Eskew and Hugh T. McElrath (Nashville: Broadman Press, 1980).



      Dean B. McIntyre is the director of music resources for the General Board of Discipleship.


      This article may be copied, downloaded, and used for local church worship and education use without charge provided this entire copyright clause is included on each copy made.



      posted 4-17-01


    _______________________________________

 
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B
(no login)
70.232.78.138

Re: “Bar Tunes”—a Misconception?

May 30 2006, 1:34 PM 

Actually, I do know how to read shaped notes. I learned at a Christian college if you can believe that.

I enjoy a mixture of songs, not just old or just new. If a phrase repeats several times, that's fine with me as long as it's a biblical thought.

Just curious, why do you keep responding to me as "John"?

 
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John Worsham
(no login)
170.190.198.108

Re: “Bar Tunes”—a Misconception?

June 2 2006, 2:51 PM 

"B" asked Donnie the following: Just curious, why do you keep responding to me as "John"?

Maybe he thinks we're the same person. I take it as a compliment.

I wouldn't worry about any illusions Donnie might have. He is not a member at Madison, and he has no influence whatsoever here. When he has the courage to place membership and get involved in the work here, then I will listen to him.

 
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Jimmy Wren
(no login)
199.227.205.202

place membership!!!

June 2 2006, 11:14 PM 

How does one, who is added to Christ's church by being born again, become a member at Madison? Does the church at Madison have it's own list of who is a Christian and who isn't?

A few questions: Could you explain what "placing membership" means? Could you tell me where it originated? Could you give a Scripture or even an example of "placing membership" from the Bible?


If a Catholic moves from one town to another he looks up the Church and starts attending Mass. After all, nothing has changed but the location!

If a Church of Christ person moves from one town to another what has changed in this person's relationship with the Church and God? Only the location.


In Christ,

Jimmy

 
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Donnie Cruz
(no login)
65.1.221.199

Donnie’s illusions … he has no influence whatsoever

June 5 2006, 12:34 AM 

John,

My name is in “the book of life” (Phil. 4:3); it is written in “the book of life” (Rev. 13:8; 17:8); I expect my name not to be blotted out of “the book of life” (Rev. 3:5).

You are probably correct that I have no influence at Madison whatsoever. But I have a responsibility to be loyal to Christ and His church by warning leaders of other congregations not to make the same mistakes that wreaked havoc on the Madison body. It’s just not worth implementing controversial and unnecessary changes that incite spiritual riot and alienation in peaceable congregations.

No, thanks, I have no interest in getting “involved in the work here” to further the cause of your “Worship Leader” and his “Praise Team”—the biggest problems that still exist—only so that you will listen to me. Besides, warning others of Madison’s unfortunate pitfalls is keeping me busy already.

Donnie

 
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