Steve Camp and Phil Keaggy: check out this song on You Tube...

(by Tim) When I was about nineteen, I went over to a guy's house for what at the time was called a jam session. The guy lived with his parents in Wheaton, and they'd given him a room in their basement where he and his band practiced. I'd come with a friend who was also a guitarist and I hung out while the two of them traded licks for a while. It was a good time, in large part because no one there was sniffing glue or getting stoned or drunk. The times were drug-infested and jam sessions without drugs or too much alcohol were the exception to the rule.

Decades later, I found out that young man was now a famous Christian musician--and reformed, to boot. Then, I heard he was speaking out against the crass materialism of the contemporary Christian music scene as only a son of Wheaton could or would. His name is Steve Camp and my respect for him has deepened over the years.There's another CCM guitarist I respect a great deal...

My son-in-law and daughter, Doug and Heather Ummel, live in Nashville and know some of the CCM crowd. They put this man at the top of the list. His name is Phil Keaggy and this is a good example of his musical virtuosity and spiritual depth.

Really, I have little doubt that, were Jesse's son, David, alive and playing today, he'd not be a member of the American Guild of Organists or a harpsichordist, but a guitarist. And when he led the people of God in corporate worship on the Lord's Day, whether he stuck to the Psalter or added songs, hymns, and spiritual songs, he'd accompany the congregation with a guitar.



Reminds me of Larry Norman. I always thought he was rather uncompromising, even if I can't listen to, "Why should the devil have all the good music?" since I discovered classical music and jazz years ago. . .

But I think about the very public personal failures of some of these figures, Larry Norman's divorce isn't even mentioned on his website, Sandy Patti talks a lot about restoration but I never hear her speak of repentance. I don't expect folks to be perfect, but what do you do when much of their music seems to contradict the way they live their life?


Thumbs-up to both Steve Camp and Phil Keaggy. My father has frequently praised Camp's hundred-some-odd theses for the reformation of christian music, and I believe you can find them online.

As for Keaggy, there's an old story about an interviewer asking Jimi Hendrix what it was like being the best guitarist alive. His answer was something to the effect of, "Go ask Phil Keaggy." KILLER guitarist. (and missing a finger on his right hand!)

Regarding the Hendrix story, there's never been any confirmation of this; Keaggy has apparently said he doubts it ever happened. Read the story over at Snopes.

My husband and I took a cruise last fall where Steve Camp led the music all week--I truly enjoyed his talent and am glad I'm not alone.


Steve Camp's blog (linked above) doesn't mention his divorce either, but that's not the standard by which I'd judge a website; I'm not sure why I would expect that sort of information to be there. (And I don't.)

At any rate, Larry Norman was a stylistic trailblazer, to the extent that no other Christian singers in the late 1960s were doing his mix of Neil Young and Bob Dylan sounds for church audiences, and Norman helped to create a market acceptance for Christian pop singers of the following generation like Steve Camp and Keith Green who proved to be decidedly more Biblical in their song lyrics and themes.


You're right, I guess it's not the sort of thing one should expect to see on a website. I wasn't aware Steve Camp is in his second marriage also. I guess I just have a bee in my bonnet about folks like Larry Norman, Steve Camp, Sandy Patti, etc. who talk so glowingly about their (2nd) marriages, as if the first ones never happened. It's a problem in evangelicalism as a whole, not just among the celebrities of various stripes.

But that's not what the thread is supposed to be about so I'll just slink quietly away and take my bees with me. . . . .


Nobody's chosen to tackle the the really juicy part of the post yet, which is...

>Really, I have little doubt that, were Jesse's son, David, alive and playing today, he'd not be a member of the American Guild of Organists or a harpsichordist, but a guitarist. And when he led the people of God in corporate worship on the Lord's Day, whether he stuck to the Psalter or added songs, hymns, and spiritual songs, he'd accompany the congregation with a guitar.<

Well that's the easy part, Jody. David played a stringed instrument, not a keyboard. Indeed, the Latin word for "lyre" is "cithara" from which we get the modern English "guitar."

Also, Jimi Hendrix may be a more influential guitarist, not least for his drug-addled stage antics. But Phil Keaggy is much more pleasant to listen to. Plus Keaggy can actually sing.

And finally, I've never understood the "exclusive Psalmody" argument.

Rberman nails it; although I am a lover of both the organ and the "88 string guitar" (up to 97 if it's a Boesendorfer), I think that David might have yet chosen something portable like a guitar or banjo. (on the light side, maybe something a bit louder like, say, the bagpipes or accordion?) j/k

And he had more than one wife, too, and found himself estranged from his 1st, Michal, if I read the Scriptures correctly. OK, there ARE musicians who are NOT divorced, right?

"I wasn't aware Steve Camp is in his second marriage also."

Is he? I had the impression he had stayed unmarried after his divorce. I respect him highly, despite the nasty things he has to say about my church. :)

I think we err when we try to hold Christian musicians to a higher standard than other Christians. If they were pastors, I could see expecting them to be examples, but they're usually not. They're laypeople, sinners like the rest of us, and their witness is no more perfect than ours. They just happen to be in the spotlight more.

"Regarding the Hendrix story, there's never been any confirmation of this; Keaggy has apparently said he doubts it ever happened. Read the story over at Snopes."

Never let a little thing like Snopes get in the way of a good myth. I WANT to believe the Keaggy-Hendrix story.


I don't know that he is remarried, I thought it was implied from the context. I have much admiration for people who stay single after divorce, it's very difficult to do in our culture.

I disagree about holding musicians to a higher standard - no, they are not pastors, but they are leaders, teachers who have put themselves in the spotlight (they don't just "happen" to be there). But, as I say, divorce/remarriage is a particular bee of mine.


I watched the video clip and came away with the impression that he sounded a lot like Dave Matthews (live). Great guitar work but hardly a one-of-a-kind.

Of course I heartily agree with the theology but if this an argument about the suitability of such music in corporate worship then I must part company. By definition worship is a corporate endeavor and a song like this is not easily sung by a congregation.

One could do worse than to be compared to Dave Matthews, who is also one-of-a-kind! There are plenty of faster players than Matthews or Keaggy. All that takes is practicing scales for two hours a day for a couple of years. Melodic sense is much easier to come by, which is why there are many more instrumentalists than composers. An instrumentalist who can also write beautiful compositions is rarer than either skill alone.

Er I meant melodic sense is much *harder* to come by. Duh.

Speaking of guitarists, I once attended a concert by Christopher Parkening. To hear Bach played on a guitar is truly joy!

RBerman, if you can get hold of a copy of Keaggy's album "The Master and the Musician," jump at the chance. It showcases his instrumental talent really well.

I have 20 Keaggy CDs and 4 DVDs, and that is indeed a good one! My current favorite from him to try to play is his setting of CS Lewis' poem "As the Ruin Falls." from his album "Love Broke Thru." And while we're on the topic of good songs from artists mentioned in this thread, I appreciate Keith Green's "If You Love the Lord" and Steve Camp's "He Is All You Need."

RBerman wrote:

>Well that's the easy part, Jody. David played a stringed instrument,

not a keyboard. Indeed, the Latin word for "lyre" is "cithara" from

which we get the modern English "guitar."<

Easy for some folks maybe RBerman, but in the denominational circles that Tim and David move in, that's some pretty edgy stuff. Although, I can't decide if I'm surprised or not to find that no one's taking the


You may not have to constantly argue for the validity of certain

instruments in worship, but ridiculous as it seems, they do. I don't

know if you've read Paul Jones' recent book "Singing and Making Music"

but Chapters 4 and 7 will give you a better idea of why the last part

of Tim's post is so juicy. In a rather absurd and uncharitable way,

Jones asserts that the acoustic guitar is appropriate only for the

small parlor gathering, and any amplified/electronic/synthesized

instruments (he sees no difference between them) are "unreal,"

"inauthentic," "unnatural." On the other hand (and you can guess

what's coming) "The pipe an instrument suited to leading a

larger body in the praise of God...they were designed for larger

spaces and have a natural capacity for volume" (pg.30).

And many people who are persuaded by his views are also regular

readers of this blog. One such fellow is even linked to from here. So

where are you guys? Are you just going to sit back and let Tim and

David lead their church's off the musical deep end?

Ah, thanks for the context. I was unfamiliar with Mr. Jones, the organist of Tenth Pres, but I'm not surprised that an instrumentalist would write that the instrument to which he happens to have devoted his career also happens objectively to be the best instrument. How convenient! I understand that John Frame is also an organist, however, and his "Worship in Spirit and Truth" and "Contemporary Worship Music" books come to rather a different conclusion. I suspect that debates about pipe organs will seem increasingly quaint with each decade that passes.

Perhaps supporters of Mr. Jones' view simply don't expect to find discussion of worship styles in a thread about Phil Keaggy? I'd rather discuss Keaggy myself. Isn't the chord progression for "Maker of the Universe" just the neatest thing?

Jody, Jones' view really echoes all the way back to Tertullian, in the 3rd (?) century, if I remember correctly--though certainly it didn't mention the guitar in its modern form, as it hadn't been developed.

It might be a very interesting discussion; the organ is of course well suited for large, grand spaces, but the Biblical record of the Temple is that the actual building wasn't very big or grand at all; the grand thing was of course He who had His presence there. Does it speak perhaps to God choosing the humble things of this world to shame the wise?

The organ comment is especially funny considering that the organ was essentially the first artificially amplified instrument.

Robert, how is it that Jones' view echoes back to Tertullian? Sounds interesting...

Not to intentionally continue to derail this topic but I can't resist making an observation to the recent posts.

I see a significant difference between the issue of amplification and augmentation. It is clear to me that amplification is called for and necessary most of the time in the service, however, I am not sure that I am prepared to agree that electronic augmentation of an instrument is appropriate for worship.

Is electric augmentation of the pastor's voice appropriate for worship?

So which was Virgil Fox--augmentation or amplification?

And what about the stops? Must every last one of them be pulled by the organist or is it theologically permissible for electricity to lend a hand?

And if they all must be pulled by hand, does it have to be the organist's own hands or may a stop-puller be employed?

Really, the questions are almost endless when we begin to parse the difference between amplification and augmentation.

It reminds me of an old saying I'm quite fond of: "All an Englishman's preferences are a matter of principle." And to understand this saying, it helps if the one repeating it brings his fist down hard on the table to emphasize that word 'principle,' and maybe even adds the words 'damn it' to the end.

Well I guess I have been called out. It’s true, I have a strong British heritage. I had not heard that saying before but since I have now, I hope you don’t mind if it becomes a new favorite of mine.

I suppose I could be suffering from a little bit of pendullar paradigm shifting since I have a fairly recent charismatic background. In fact, I was a play-by-ear drummer in the church for a few years. Maybe that is why I am a little reluctant at the idea of a rift on the electric guitar in the middle of “O For a Thousand Tongues”. Still, I don't think that it would result in the apocolyptic collapse of society complete with adulterous affairs between dogs and cats(Bill Murray in Gostbusters).

I realize that my personal reluctance in this area is not authoritative but I am not quite ready to chalk it up to personal preference alone since I do have some fondness for hard rock.


I really don’t think that having the pastor hooked up to the distortion box is going to work well but has anyone considered running the violin or flute through it? How about feedback?

Display of my ignorance--> what’s a stop puller?

Someone who pulls stops, freeing up the real organist to concentrate on the keys and pedals. Today, most organs employ electricity to augment ease of stop pulling. Here's a picture of an organ with loads of stops, but they're augmented stops the organist can pull (or rather, push) himself. In fact, he can cheat even more and push one of the little buttons under the keyboard, thereby pulling a whole bunch of stops at once. This we refer to as augmenting augmentation:

But real organists will pull, not push, their stops, even if they need an extra pair of hands.


Your points are well taken. Perhaps sometime when you are visiting CTW the opportunity will arise to ask you a few more questions on the topic.

Certainly not Jones' argument in toto, but the sentiment about the organ itself is there.

Fred, I wasn't thinking of augmenting the pastor's voice with a fuzz box, but there are all sorts of other things that can be done with a microphone signal. Compression, chorus, noise gate, equalization, etc. But the bottom line for me is that even though acoustic guitar is my instrument, there's nothing sacrosanct I can see in how a sound wave is generated. You can do different things with an electric guitar than you can with an acoustic guitar. You can do things on organ or piano you could never do on guitar, and vice versa. Pipe organs come from an era where they were the best choice for their venue, but that's been less and less true over the last 100 years. I honestly have trouble taking seriously any statements of the general form, "Old ways of generating sound waves are good, and new ones are bad."

>I really don’t think that having the pastor hooked up to the distortion box is going to work well but has anyone considered running the violin or flute through it?<

Done it. It can be useful, but better to use reverb, delay, or...a LOOP STATION! Like Andrew Bird here:

Rather, try this link for Andrew Bird.

same song, same artist, different venue and much higher sound quality.

Artists like Howie Day also make significant use of looped tracks, often having as many as 6 or 7 separate loops running at once allowing one lone acoustic guitarist to sound like a whole ensemble of musicians. cool concept.

I especially like the part around 4:10 where the drummer doesn't quite catch the groove with the looped violin track, resulting in a very postmodern polyrhythmic sort of feel... he screws up. it's funny.

Does anyone know exactly how many times Larry Norman has been married and divorced?

A few questions:

1) Why the organ/guitar dichotomy?

2) Since we've decided that there are no musical styles or instruments that are inherently inappropriate for a corporate worship service, can I expect to praise God with some electronica on a Sunday morning any time soon? I think it's high time we introduced some acid house a la 808 State or some Goa trance a la Astral Projection into our services. If you'd like to get people dancing, that's one surefire way to do it. Plus we can get away from the whole organ/guitar dichotomy by bringing in some software, an 808 and 909 drum machine and, of course, a TB-303 bass line machine. So, when?

Facetiousness aside, the argument that hard guitar rock is just as appropriate for Christian worship as a humble piano/organ ensemble (minus the crescendos, the stops and the 4-part harmonies) that merely supports rather than overwhelms the congregational singing will never hold a drop of water as long as its advocates resist applying it consistenly. Of course you'd never play techno in church. But try to explain why not. Anyway, getting rid of pretentious organ music shouldn't automatically bring in pretentious guitar music.

3) What's the provenance of the quotation, "All an Englishman's preferences are a matter of principle"? I can't locate it online anywhere but here.

The Jimi Hendrix store is this.
fact 1 - the canton ohio repository did a story on the release of the glass harps first album.
fact 2 - in this review they noted as follows Jimi says "That guy is the up and coming guitarist in the midwest".
fact 3 - i have a copy of this that i cut out and saved.
now the question. Did Jimi hear Phil play? we don't know, someone or many some ones could have told him about Phil, or less likely he heard Phil play. Myths rumors storie told and retold One thing is for sure, if he did hear him play...he liked it.

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