Principles for Good Shepherd Band's leadership...

Goodshepherdband (Tim: from left, Philip Moyer, Mick Buschbacher, Andrew Henry, Jim Hogue, Jody Killingsworth) Church of the Good Shepherd is served by a wonderful group of modern-day sons of Asaph, church musicians who serve the Lord and their brothers and sisters in Christ faithfully each week, leading us in worship. They call themselves the Good Shepherd Band and on their MySpace page they've posted a statement of the musical principles we follow in our worship. To listen to their latest music, check out their web site. How our faith is strengthened through their hard work!

We believe that music used for worship should arise from the context of the local church and should be essentially pastoral: it should rebuke as well as encourage, it should teach as well as emote. Consumer driven worship has its finger more on the pulse of the pocketbook than the worshipper’s true spiritual condition. Consumerism is driven by the mantra “The customer is always right! Whatever the customer wants, the customer gets!” Apply that principle to preaching and you lose preaching. Apply it to worship and you get CCM.

We believe that music used for worship is obligated to declare the whole counsel of God. It should lead people to praise God both for His “Yes” and His “No”...

Many great hymns throughout the ages do this so you’ll often find us reworking the songs of previous centuries in addition to composing new ones of our own.

We believe that music used for worship should be contextualized. It’s a hindrance to the gospel if we require that our neighbor step back in time a hundred or so years in order to understand our worship language, and so we try where we can to translate the past into the idioms of our day without sacrificing the integrity of the message. This is a difficult but vital work, similar to the Reformers translating the Scriptures from Latin into modern languages—what they called putting things into the "vulgar tongue."

We believe that the affect or “feel” of the music should be consistent with the essence of the lyrics. Words instruct our minds in the truth and the music trains our emotions how to feel about it. Often, what you’ll hear from us is very intense, very jubilant, very strong, very sad, etc. This gets us accused of being charismatic or promoting enthusiasm. That’s also what they accused Jonathan Edwards of and we’re okay with that.

• Scripture instructs us to use our bodies in worship in various ways, and we believe that the church’s music should endeavor to insist on these actions when they are topically fitting. More than just singing along, it should regularly make you want to stand up, clap your hands, shout for joy, raise your hands, prostrate yourself; and yes, even dance. Therefore, the music one prefers while relaxing at home is not necessarily appropriate for corporate worship.

We believe that worship music should be unashamedly masculine. This may be the hardest pill for people to swallow. Men should not have to check their sexuality at the door and only ever posture themselves as women in relation to God the Father. Not only is that disgusting, it’s unbiblical. The church corporate is the Bride of Christ but we are to relate personally to God as sons to our Father. The absence of masculine worship lends itself to the absence of themes central to the Christian faith—warfare being an obvious example. Compare the content of worship songs today with that of the Psalter and you’ll start to see that something has gone horribly wrong.

If you’re interested in booking the Good Shepherd Band or just want to talk about these things, please send us an e-mail.

Comments

How do praise bands (and choirs) fit with the Reformed doctrine of the RPW?

>How do praise bands fit with the Reformed doctrine of the regulative principle of worship?

Same way pianos and organs and pitch pipes do. I mention pitch pipes because that's the instrument used in Lord's Day worship by Reformed Presbyterians who claim to be scrupulous about the regulative principle of worship. In fact, best as I can tell, their peculiar take on the RPW may be their only reason to exist.

Being in Bloomington where IU's music school is a dominant presence, our session has given some considerable study, thought, and prayer to this, and we believe Lord's Day worship can be led by a wide variety of instruments; that the Word of God has left this matter open by commending a whole host of instruments as suitable for use in the corporate praise of God; that those who argue for a capella Psalter-only often use pitch pipes or drums (RPs in Africa); that others who argue against the use of drums or electric guitars usually don't oppose organs with electric stops and bellows, or the deep bass notes of pedals; and so on.

Thus, we've concluded the regulative principle should be applied to the content of worship in a way that doesn't contradict, for instance, Psalm 150--particularly the "loud resounding cymbals" part.

God bless those who disagree, although maybe not those who argue for the organ and condemn a band. That is something I have great difficulty up with putting.

Hmmm, never thought about worship music and the feminization aspect but it actually makes sense. Incidentally, I can't stand most contemporary worship music, the hipper it is, the worse.

At any rate, good for them for saying that piece about masculinity, they are brave. They'd probably get physically assaulted by female church members here in Portland for saying something like that. (It's just ever so slightly liberal here)

With all do respect Tim I know very few RP's who use pitch pipes. Also might be good of you to talk with some RP's and see why they do exist. There is a heckuva lot more to being RP than their "peculiar worship" (which is historically much more "Reformed" than the last 100 years of man-made inventions and developments in worship).

Do we have any Scriptural evidence promoting choirs and/or bands in NT worship? (As the RPW requires)?

>I know very few RP's who use pitch pipes...

That's not my experience, but then you're in Pittsburgh, so you may be right.

>Also might be good of you to talk with some RP's and see why they do exist.

Been there, done that.

>There is a heckuva lot more to being RP than their "peculiar worship"

Like what? Assuming it's generally a bad thing for churches to be organized to protect ethnic identity, I have a hard time seeing other significant matters that differentiate RPs from other Westminster Standards congregations.

>the last 100 years of man-made inventions and developments in worship...

You mean like chairs? Air conditioning? Words projected on walls and screens? Pew Bibles? PA systems? Cordless mics? Syncopation?

Of course, I'm joshing you, dear brother. But behind the jokes is the truth we hold to. We do not accept the RPs' position of the RPW, as you see. But I have no desire to debate this matter here, parcticularly since there's so much other work to be done. And at best, if I were to be convinced that this is a breach in the wall, it's a very, very, very old one.

>Do we have any Scriptural evidence promoting choirs and/or bands in NT worship?

Yes, the absence of any indication of condemnation of the instruments used in the Old Testament corporate worship as commanded by (among many other texts) Psalm 150.

>As the RPW requires?

Of course the million dollar question is, "Which regulative principle of worship?"

I love you, dear brother, but I do want the discussion of this post to go back to the question of the principles here enumerated for musical leadership of corporate Lord's Day worship, rather than the prior question whether instruments are proper. I hope you won't take offense at that.

Speaking as someone (well) outside the Presbyterian family, I have had occasion to complain about the "God-is-my-boyfriend" worship songs that are just FAR too prevalent nowadays in my theological stream (every time someone in Vineyard mentions the phrase, "intimacy in worship", it's like fingernails down a blackboard). Christian men will simply not sing them, never mind a man coming in from the world .... Of all things, it was my time in Promise Keepers that made me aware of this; not least because, as they pointed out, there are some hymns whose key is too far up the register for men to sing easily.

Also, something about the a capella singing associated with some Presbyterian groups. One writer here (Scotland) has pointed out that at least some of that is cultural, in that, "in its Gaelic-language context in the Western Isles, it is strikingly effective and strikingly moving".

Not to derail the conversation any further but I do think a major problem in confessing churches is that many of us do things in worship especially that we give no other thought to but that is how it has been done especially without thinking about the consequences and the biblical reasoning for doing so.

We believe that worship music should be unashamedly masculine. This may be the hardest pill for people to swallow. Men should not have to check their sexuality at the door and only ever posture themselves as women in relation to God the Father.

What about the women? Are they be posturing as men when they sing masculine music?

>What about the women? Are they be posturing as men when they sing masculine music?

Of course the exclusion of biblical womanhood from worship is not at all what is meant here, rather, it is a statement of the "essentially pastoral" nature of worship. Pastoral is an excellent word to use in understanding the various functions of worship music; it publicly rebukes, encourages, proclaims God's glory, evangelizes, calls to repentance etc. Of course, just as the office of pastor is an inherently masculine one according to Scriptures, so also must worship music be masculine as it functions pastorally.

Second, there has been a trend in music, as well as the rest of Church life, to turn things inward. Worship music has become introspective, quiet and intimate (especially as it focuses on the individual) at the expense of the outward, loud, joyful and corporate. This feminization of worship music has lead away from scripture first in method than inevitably in content.

One thing that I think can take away from the corporate nature of the worship is if the music is always very loud. We should always have some songs where we can well hear each other singing. At CGS we've usually got at least one per service that has little and/or quiet enough instrumentation that it was easy to blend our voices together. I wish we had just a few more like that but, like anything, it's a balance, we can't end up going completely to one direction while seeking to get away form another extreme.

I think things are pretty good at CGS and I know the acoustics in the gym are very bad so we play the music loudly, but we need to be careful that the music is not so overpowering that the people can't hear themselves. If the music is too loud the people singing in the congregation can be left to feel like they aren't really participating. Surely we've all been in churches where they play the organ etc. so loudly you don't even try to raise your voice loud enough to be heard because you just can't, you just give up. CGS doesn't seem to have that problem, but I could imagine it could become one, but right now things seem really good.

KDH,

The important, but almost totally forgotten, principle is this: go for the men and the women will follow. Or put differently, men will follow men; women will follow men; but men will not follow women.

Recently, I worshiped at a reformed church whose music was decidedly by women, for women. Three women led vocally, with one slightly timid man bringing up the rear. The main instrument was a grand piano played by a woman. There was a drum set--safely protected behind a latex shield (well, maybe it was polycarbonate). There were also a couple of acoustic guitars, but they were anything but strong. The music was by women, for women.

Even strong, old words like, "His chariots of wrath the deep thunderclouds form, and dark is his path on the wings of the storm," were led in an effeminate way. The other songs were decidedly soft, if not in their message, certainly in their style.

This softness was not unique to the music. For example, the responsive readings were read with quietness, not because the Scripture passages were pensive or contemplative--they were the strongest and most glorious words imaginable.

I left the service feeling drained, not built up. Does that mean all worship must be conducted with high volume and high energy? No. "The LORD is in His holy temple. Let all the earth be silent before Him" (Habakkuk 2:20). But it does mean that leadership in Christ's church must be masculine, not feminine, and certainly not effeminate.

The larger issue is leadership in general. As I recently said to our music leader, Mr. Jody Killingsworth, the reform we want to see in American churches is a package deal. It's not just the music--it's the preaching, the pastoral care, the boldness, the risk. What we are praying for and working for is a very large pill to swallow. But God is forcing it down our throats. Why can't he do so to the Church at large--especially since his glory is at stake?

Thanks for pointing my attention to this. FYI: there's a bad link to the band site, it needs an "http://" to work.

... men will follow men; women will follow men; but men will not follow women.

Precisely. Which is why egalitarian Christianity leads immediately and inevitably to churches that are toxic to men.

Does that mean all worship must be conducted with high volume and high energy? No.

Well ... hmmmm. If we're just looking for what can be gleaned by mere observation, I'd go for lots of noise, earthquakes, lightning, blasting trumpets, or whatever analogues "worship leaders" can marshall in a God-pleasing worship service. Do a very rapid fly-over in the Apocalypse and note what John reports of heaven. It's a pretty noisey place. So, too, Sinai, for example.

But it does mean that leadership in Christ's church must be masculine, not feminine, and certainly not effeminate.

Again, a bird's-eye view of God's people in worship shows this. First, worship is the purview of the patriarch until Sinai. The Levitical leadership, instituted at Sinai, is added to, not substituted for, the leadership of the family patriarchs, on whom God lays the responsibility for traveling three times a year to the Feasts of the Lord.

When David's and Solomon's leadership vastly elaborates and embellishes Israel's worship, it is still the men who are up front and leading, in the Levitcal choirs, their leaders/composers/performers, and the expanding body of hymnody.

About that hymnody -- another bird's-eye overview of the Psalms shows its subjects and the way they are treated are drenched in testoterone. What is the Psalmist reveling in as he praises God? Storms, battles, earthquakes, humiliating defeats for God's enemies, and so forth. Lay the Book of Psalms alongside the treacley dreck of 19th Century American gospel songs and you'll get the idea real quick.

There is not a shred of evidence in the New Testament to repudiate these patterns and principles. Rather, they are endorsed in the pastorals. In the mixed assembly of believers, the men are up front and leading, the women are present and particiapting in their submission to the male leaders -- as they always were in the Old Testament worship.

This is somewhat off-topic, so feel free to delete it if you like, but: What, in this context, is a pitch pipe? The ones I'm familiar with have only four notes, and are used for tuning violins. I'm not sure how this would be used as a musical instrument, so I assume there's some other kind that I don't know about.

Recently, I worshiped at a reformed church whose music was decidedly by women, for women. Three women led vocally, with one slightly timid man bringing up the rear. The main instrument was a grand piano played by a woman. There was a drum set--safely protected behind a latex shield (well, maybe it was polycarbonate). There were also a couple of acoustic guitars, but they were anything but strong. The music was by women, for women.

I suppose you have some scriptural reference for what style of music is Biblically acceptable - let alone masculine - and what is not?

Oops. Last comment was me. Not sure how "John" got in there.

A Pitch Pipe cannot be used as a musical instrument Tom. It is a non-sequitur brought about to make acapella worship look "silly" and "hypocritical".

Dear Ben,

Actually, I was in dead earnest about the pitch pipe. It's a musical instrument used to lead singing in corporate Lord's Day worship for which there is clearly no New Testament mandate. The fact that it's only employed briefly several times each worship service matters not. And in Africa, Reformed Presbyterians use drums. Put the pitch pipe of the United States together with the drums of Africa and you have a piano--a percussion instrument that sets both the pitch and the rhythm. Something about the smallest infraction of the law making one guilty of the whole law?

With love,

Tim Bayly

I was raised in the church of Christ and there were disagreements among churches over whether a pitch pipe was allowed or not. The argument wasn't whether it was a musical instrument or not but rather on if it was authorized or not. That may seem like hair-splitting but that's the way it was. Ah, those were the days...

Something one often sees is a church that is orthodox in not having women as elders but in which the singing is led each week by a woman. In fact, the pattern Pastor Bayly mentioned of a woman leading with three or so other singers, one of whom is a man looking out of place, is not uncommon.

This is troubling. A woman song leader is actually exerting far more authority over the congregation than any of the elders ever does in most churches. (Most churches have no church discipline and the congregation doesn't even know who the elders are; everybody follows the lead of the worship leader.) I suspect that often the woman song leader is also choosing the words of the songs. This needs to be confronted by anyone who believes Scripture prohibits female leadership. Even for those who do not, Pastor Bayly's post is relevant, because his argument is that typical worship singing is not even egalitarian; it is feminine.

The danger is a subtle one, too. A church which had a doctrinally sound woman preaching would probably get pretty good sermons. She'd be preaching God's word, after all, and the text would constrain her. But she might not even think to try to avoid a feminine color to the music, and she'd get less feedback from the congregation about it.

Even when you don't *know* what's wrong, it's funny how often people have a negative reaction to those things being discussed here.

Oddly, in my old church, a woman was the worship leader (she sat in back of the group, behind the keyboard, but she still directed), and yet I wasn't allowed to pass the communion plates around to my table at an informal summer service. The pastor jumped up and grabbed them out of my hands.

Funny where the lines get smudged for expedience's sake, isn't it?

Kamilla

Tim,

Do you think the term "worship" is correctly used when discussing the act of singing? I find it misleading when we assume worship time in a service means particularly singing. I believe it may imply that other acts in the service or in everyday life are not...

Guy

I think some would be served in reading John Girardeau's "Instrumental Music in the Public Worship of the Church" and John Price's "Old Light on New Worship".

Because there are quite a bit of strawmen being knocked down in this discussion.

I think some would be served in reading John Girardeau's "Instrumental Music in the Public Worship of the Church" and John Price's "Old Light on New Worship".

Because there are quite a bit of strawmen being knocked down in this discussion.

Dear Ben, At least a few of us have read these works--and as you might suspect, we find them unconvincing. Tim and I have written on worship, idolatry and the regulative principle at some length on this blog. For more on what we've said follow this link: http://baylyblog.com/blog-tags/worship-idolatry. I think I speak for Tim and I know I speak for myself in saying that until we deal with idolatry plain and simple, all the carping in the world over standard Reformed RPW issues is legalistic legerdemain. Instruments aren't the focus of the second commandment, locus classicus of Reformed teaching on the regulative principle. Images are. Yes, by synecdoche, other issues eventually come into play, but if we're going to go via synedoche to tertiary applications of the second commandment, let's begin with greed rather than instrumentation. Nowhere in Scripture do we find men put to death for playing instruments in worship. Yet greed is called idolatry and Ananias and Sapphira die for their greed. Love in Christ, David Bayly

One last post and I'll go away

Some verses to look at:

Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns andspiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord, Eph. 5:19.

And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God; and the prisoners heard them, Acts 16:25

Let the word of Christ dwell richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord, Col. 3:16.

Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory, 1 Pet. 1:8.

But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshipers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth, John 4:23,24.

I love the stuff on masculine worship - that's all fine and good. But what about historicity and, gasp, catholicity? I *fear* you are not self-consciously addressing one of the other pitfalls of the age - our apparent refusal to grow up. Why must the Churches continue to have adolescent/youth group style worship bands? Is it possible that while the lyrics are terrific, the intent good, and the music palatable and approporiate in certain contexts, it isn't approporiate to Lord's Day worship because of its very style? Does this style, no doubt unintentionally, promote immaturity?

Might I suggest that you need to get away from the whole'band' thing (except for outreach events). I am all for multiple instruments of various kinds by the way. But this culture of bands at the front with their guitars and amplification (if that's indeed what you're doing), simply reinforces the opposite of what your churches have always sought to do - resist capitulation to the spirit of the age. We don't need the Beatles' model baptized, but we could use some more Bach, some more Watts, some more Wesley...some more chanting of the Psalms for goodness sakes, and modern instruments - even electric ones as much as I personally find them unhelpful in worship - need not be discarded for this. Go ahead and place your singing sons of Asaph at the front, but have them face each other in antiphonal fashion; have your guitars, but make them sit down - next to the violins abd cellos; no more rock stars in worship please.

One, two, a one, two, three four! Hit it!

And how about a choir? David instituted choirs in his liturgical renewal, and Nehemiah followed suit in his days of restoration.

Love the music by the way; I have serious questions however about context, trajectory, and unforseen outcomes.

In response to DP Cassidy,

What you may not know or realize is that the Good Shepherd Band is made up almost entirely of musicians from a classical background, not in the "I played Mozart on the piano when I was 9" sense but in serious pursuit of things like Baroque Violin, Conducting, Viola and Music Theory. If we so desired there could be Bach, Palestrina, and Schutz in our worship every week but there is enough Bach in this town, there is not enough worship of the Triune God in Spirit and in Truth! To have this type of music would alienate the poor and uneducated which of all people must not be alienated by our methods!

The type of work we do is also nothing new; Luther used bar-tunes and his hymns were described as "Gigs" because of the upbeat feel of the music. As for old text from Watts and Wesley (and others too!), we sing many of their texts but we often write new tunes or accompaniments. In short we believe The content should be the focus, our goal is to present Gospel Truths in a way that has currency with the current way of thinking, in other words music in a Lingua Franca. Our preaching isn't in Latin nor should our music be in an similar academic idiom, namely that of "Classical Music"or the Regulative Principal of Worship.

On an interesting and related note, Charles Ives, Americas first truly great composer, writes, "There was power and exaltation in these great conclaves of sound from humanity. I've heard the same hymns played by nice celebrated organists and sung by highly known singers in beautifully upholstered churches, and in the process everything in the music was emasculated, precise (usually to fast) even time - "ta ta" down-left-right-up - pretty voices, etc. They take a mountain and make a sponge cake out of it..."

Mick,

Luther did not use bar tunes. That is a myth and used by some to bismurch Luther's character. See here:

http://tiny.cc/ZH5Fd

As far as not using the "RPW". Well one would think that any Reformed denomination would not hold to Lutheran and Anglican distinctives when it came to worship. (cf: Deut 4:2 and 12:32)

Well, we all can use fact checking! :) (I also think I meant "Jigs" not "Gigs")

My point wasn't to endorse Lutheran musical practice but illustrate the upbeat nature of his hymns. By RPW I mean specifically the branch that says "no" to all instruments. This stuff (as well as the emphasis on Western, and therefore white, classical music) seems to be all very far in spirit from what the Bible actually puts forth as method for worship. To be sure there is great danger in this area; for pride, idolatry and the incorporation of the worldy themes usually associated with what ever musical style is being used.

In general, however, what I've observed here in this discussion is a meticulous care for the letter of the law as well as tradition (what a dangerous word!), with very little emphasis on the fruit of these things in practice. Music's whole function is to lead God's people in Worship! Proclaiming the whole Word of God to both the Church and the world. Looking back and reading what has been written about RPW and "Classical Music" here seems to me to be a lot like sifting gnats and swallowing camels.

The post that mentioned the Beatles brought to mind a problem I recently encountered. I have a friend who has been going to a liberal Episcopalian church, but it has gotten too political for him. He is not religiously sophisticated, and he wants to find a church in town with a traditional worship service. But I don't know of any churches in Bloomington that are both theologically sound and worship with traditional hymns and an organ! The closest I know of is the Missouri Synod Lutheran church, which is not completely satisfactory on either dimension.

I welcome info about traditional churches in Bloomington that I don't know about. The general point, for readers from other towns, is that in trying to make worship inviting and enjoyable, evangelical churches have sent a large group of potential worshippers who desperately need good teaching towards the liberal mainline churches instead.

>Luther did not use bar tunes. That is a myth and used by some to bismurch Luther's character.

Dear Ben,

As the old punch line goes, "Not so fast, Abernathy." The truth is much closer to what Mr. Buschbaher's written than your own categorical denial above. Yes, the web is filled with people who claim Luther didn't adapt secular tunes--and certainly not "bar" tunes--but their denials fail to reckon with a well known truth of the history of Western music. As Dr. John Barber puts it in his article, "Luther and Calvin on Music and Worship:"

>>I have found that people’s adverse reaction to the marriage of secular tunes with spiritual words comes from their personal dislike for such a practice, rather than from historical research. The idea that people have confused Luther’s use of bar tunes with the fact that he wrote hymns using the metrical bar AAB or bar-form structure forgets that "A particularly important class of chorales were the contrafacta or ‘parodies’ of secular songs, in which the given melody was retained but the text was either replaced by completely new words or else were altered so as to give it a properly spiritual meaning. The adaptation of secular songs and secular polyphonic compositions for church purposes was common in the sixteenth century." Examples of beautiful contrafacta include O Welt, ich muss dich lassen (O world, I now must leave thee), taken from Isaac’s Lied, Innsbruck, I now must leave thee. A tune from Hassler’s Lied Mein Gmuth ist mir verwirret (My piece of mind is shattered by a tender maiden’s charms), which around 1600 were changed to Herzlich thut mich verlangen (My heart is filled with longing) and later to O Haupt voll Blut und Wunden (O sacred head now wounded).

The quotes Dr. Barber uses in his above text are from Donald J. Grout's "A History of Western Music," revised edition (NewYork: W. W. Norton and Company, 1973)

It's charitable to assume that what a man means when he says Luther used bar tunes is exactly what the history of Western music documents and today's historians publish. In other words, the historical truth is much closer to the man who says "Luther used bar tunes" than the man who rejoins, "Did not."

The truth of Reformation music is not what those in love with upper middle class aesthetics and bourgeois culture would like to claim as they defend their woodwinds, strings, brass, percussion, and pipe organs. I mean, after establishing that the tune originally bearing the text "My piece of mind is shattered by a tender maiden’s charms" was later put in the service of "O Sacred Head Now Wounded," who in their right mind is going to split hairs over Luther and alcohol?

With love,

Tim Bayly

>The truth of Reformation music is not what those in love with upper middle class aesthetics and bourgeois culture would like to claim as they defend their woodwinds, strings, brass, percussion, and pipe organs.

Oddly I find more people who in their ecclesiastical musical practice show their love for a decadent popular culture than those who want worship to sound like FM Public Radio. If one wished to be true to older Reformed musical practices one would probably opt for unaccompanied singing and abandon choirs, "special music" and such. That would neither indulge someone with a classical music sweet tooth nor someone who's keen on ABBA, Lead Zeppelin or Bon Jovi.

I find this debate/discussion, or whatever you want to call it, interesting. I say this from being at CGS 7 years ago when I was a music major at IU, to visiting it as often as I can now. I've seen change happen in that time as well, in regards to music.

And no matter what I think of the music, whether it be at my current church in Indianapolis, or at CGS, what I think of the music is inconsequential. The thing I always remember is that worship music is something not taken lightly by the session, and worship leaders. Just like I trust my church leaders to discipline me and teach me God's Word, surely it must eventually follow that I trust them to lead me in worship. It is my duty, as being a member of the church who has sworn to submit to my elders, to not grumble about the music, and just SING. (whether it be with an organ, with a rock band, or accapella.)

Mr. Rasmusen wrote, "The general point, for readers from other towns, is that in trying to make worship inviting and enjoyable, evangelical churches have sent a large group of potential worshippers who desperately need good teaching towards the liberal mainline churches instead."

The irony here is that you are still talking about a man choosing a church--not based on it's solid doctrine, biblical pastoral care, warmth of fellowship, and applicational preaching--but on personal music preferences. In other words, you are still advocating that a church service be "inviting and enjoyable," only with organs and hymns. Why not strongly encourage your friend to not be consumer-driven? Why not encourage him to come to a church where the important things are present and where he will have to set aside his personal tastes in order for his soul to be shepherded? Why not encourage him to love a culture different from his own for the sake of the gospel? What a shame it would be for this man to settle into a bad church simply because he likes the music.

What, after all, will a man give in exchange for his soul?

The irony here is that you are still talking about a man choosing a church--not based on it's solid doctrine, biblical pastoral care, warmth of fellowship, and applicational preaching--but on personal music preferences.

So, then, music is ultimately adiaphora?

And, if so, why shouldn't this or that church choose Muzak worship, or High Renaissance worship, or Country-and-Western worship (yes, we have those in our town!), or Acid Rock worship?

Fr. Bill,

My point is not that music is indifferent. I am simply pointing out the irony.

Those opposed to worship conducted in the Reformed manner, that is, in the "vulgar tongue," constantly assert that "vulgar" worship is motivated by a desire to please those who attend, and is therefore inherently inferior.

But it has been suggested that churches should revert to sophisticated, educated, anachronistic worship with organ and hymns. Why? To please those who attend.

My point is that when forced to choose between a church that is faithful, but has music that you don't like, and a church that is faithless, but has music you do like, it is a tragedy (and an irony) when the decision is made based on consumer-driven concerns.

My point is not that music is indifferent. I am simply pointing out the irony.

Thanks for the clarification.

Every time I follow one of these discussions, I usually turn away in frustration. I've yet to hear anyone from the Christian camp articulate and defend rigorously a theory of musical aesthetics that would define the issues in this area of Christian worship. These debates seem inevitably to reduce to a clash of personal tastes.

It's ironic in another way, for music appears to be one of the most power sacramental things in Christian worship -- sacramental in the sense that something objective (sound, rhythm, melody, chordal resonance, the way these combine to make music rather than noise) becomes fused with something nonmaterial (meaning, significance, grace). Christians have long given varying accounts of how this works with other sacramentals; but not with music.

An intensely irritating puzzlement.

Clint,

I'm afraid in your anecdote, I completely missed any point. If you'd like to try again, privately, so we don't clutter up the thread with what may only be my own thickness to understand, drop me a note at rhooop at yahoo dot com.

Meanwhile, in our parish, we sing the Psalms "raw" -- not prettified into metric verses, set to "Amazing Grace." The tunes are quite simple, though melodic. And, when we come to a Psalm like No. 3, we include the teeth breaking part, and we sing it to a minor-key chant (as we do other laments). We also sing the imprecatory Psalms (usually, not always, to minor-key chants).

The notion that singing the psalms without accompaniment is anti-masculine in some way seems rather bizarre. It was very common among Scots Presbyterians and they didn't have any issues with men in the church or an effeminate understanding. Same for the Scots-Irish.

As well as the Psalms being the WORD OF GOD, not mere constructions of men. The Psalms preach and teach the whole counsel of God.

Hear all 150 psalms sung with little to no instrumentation.

http://thekingdomcome.com/psalmplayer

I followed the link, and enjoyed what I heard. But all I found was 150 man-made hymns based on the Psalms ;-)

>But all I found was 150 man-made hymns based on the Psalms

You didn't like the translation?

Thanks for the comments Jody. What would you suggest the community of saints sing in praise of God? Psalms, at least are representative of God's own Word and His doctrine, whereas when we sing hymns we may need to consider the accuracy of the doctrine we are chanting (singing is a form of chanting). I agree the psalms in the player are merely a compilation of the English translation of the psalms, BUT the renditions do maintain the context and intent of the at least the English translation of the psalms -- don't you agree?

It's a stretch to refer to metered, poetic renderings of Psalms as translations, don't you think?

Traditional English poetry plays by such different rules than Hebrew poetry. To transform good poetic Hebrew into well-metered English can often have satisfactory results, but it requires such a significant degree of creative license that it's not quite accurate to call them translations.

What do I suggest? Well, hymns of course. What's wrong with hymns? "Ah, Holy Jesus", "Be Still My Soul", "When I Survey the Wondrous Cross", "Be Thou My Vision"...I could go on all day.

"the renditions do maintain the context and intent of the at least the English translation of the psalms -- don't you agree?"

By and large, yes. But the quality of the poetry is often lacking in my opinion. I find that I'm stirred spiritually and emotionally to a far greater degree by a more literal version. For that reason, my favorite Psalm singing solution is Anglican chant. Although it's hard to imagine teaching a congregation to do it.

Oh, and Chanting is a form of singing, I think you mean. Not the other way around.

>Psalms, at least are representative of God's own Word and His doctrine

So are any one of the great hymns. I don't follow.

>whereas when we sing hymns we may need to consider the accuracy of the doctrine we are chanting

Could you open this up for me a bit more, please? When we sing hymns we "may" need to consider accuracy? I'm not sure what you mean? I should think we definitely need to consider accuracy.

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