Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Comments on Super-Pop Worship Music

WOW! Comments! FUN!  I've tried not to take this blog too seriously and to allow it to be a place for me to dump whatever I'm thinking or living. BUT, of course considering my ministry and teaching it makes sense that the corporate worship posts garner the most reactions. I started to write this in the comment section of the last post but it was getting long.

Ryan/Kevin, thanks for the particular band references. I was into DCT up to Jesus Freak and stopped there. I think that was my senior year of high school or freshman year of college? They just got too pop for me.

Kevin, I don't know if I'd recognize a Reliant K song if I heard it. I'll do some youtubing.

OKC Big D, your personal accounts are invaluable. I'd love to hear more next time we are together. Were you saying that the 'eschewing' of CCM artists is good or bad?

Wen, ironically my brief time with JMM made me want listen to his record. Such a stink about "sloppy wet kiss." It took me some time to get past that too but there is so much in his record. He is about as earthy as I've met in the contemp worship scene. Yeah, the vids will probably bewilder me though. I wonder how much control he has over such things. He is a fascinating example of what is happening with Christians worship and art. I asked him if being on Integrity was a good fit. I think they used to distribute all the old Vineyard cassette tapes I listened to.

Regarding what we might think about JMM in 50 years: I'm seriously getting to a point where I don't know if it is possible to use the litmus test-of-time to judge much of anything in worship or music for that matter. It is a standard in my gut that I want, but I'm struggling to apply it when honestly considering what is happening now with worship music and the internet and music distribution. As a historian, you have to acknowledge that the 'canon' of hymns, is really a farce when you look cross denominationally. There are thousands and thousands of hymns and that was when we had such limitations in terms of publishing. On one hand a good song should somehow become classic and stand the test of time. On the other hand, isn't it good that many many of God's people are responding to him creatively? Yes stand the test of time, but time for which people group? Music and art is not denominational any more, it is tribal in its many independent manifestations. Lots more to think about on this question though. Thanks for your response.


Nick Hemeren said...

I like what you're writing about Josh, thanks for that. Worship is hard, well it's easy too. It's easy because we are excited to worship our living God, but harder if you're not a fan of the song the congregation is singing. Thus, it's important to get comfortable with different worship styles. Everyone will still have their personal preference of style, but my point is that we can learn more about God and experience different "variations of awe" from different styles of worship. Personally I really like the 130 bpm worship songs because they fill me with joy and celebration. I don't understand why some Christians will cheer the roof of at home or at the stadium watching sports and then sit quietly and worship passively, not that there's anything wrong with meditation. But the style of music does affect our feelings in worship. And for me, so does the lighting. If we can enhance the worship experience by lights and spectacles, why not? If it enhances our worship experience, just like music, then why not? Note that I'm doubtful of a church spending more on material things than their local community.
One more thing. Not to put a whole lot of pressure on you Josh (just a little), but people's worship experience I believe is greatly impacted by the worship leader. A worship leader can turn a mediocre worship band/worship song into an awesome spirit-led worship experience. I think you do a good job of that Josh. As long as the worship leader sets the focus of the congregation, then in my opinion it doesn't really matter if you sing 80 bpm songs or 130 bpm.

Wen Reagan said...

Josh, thanks for the response. Sorry its taken me so long to come back around to the site. I think you bring up a great point in questioning the litmus test of time, and I'll have to think some more about that. Like you said, it's certainly true that the hymnody cannons that we create are anything but. They are constantly changing, evolving, and accommodating their time and space. But I do think it means something that some have been around for much longer than others. That might have nothing to do with their quality, but its interesting at the least. I personally think JMM's song will be around for a long time, if not the music itself, then at least the lyrics. This brings us back to traditional hymnody, which has always managed to sustain an interesting bifurcation between song and word (in that hymn texts are often put to several different melodies). Maybe one day JMM's song will be put to new music that is better situated in a new context.

As you put it, though, we do need to think about if and how time distills good music from kitsch music. And I'm not quite sure at this point. It probably involves a lot more than the simple interaction between songs and people singing them. Like you mentioned, a hundred years ago we had a much smaller, controlled publishing system that, for good or bad, had more control over the "theological proof" of the songs distilled over time. That age is certainly over, so maybe those traditional mechanisms no longer operate like they used to, and the rules that govern our publishing reality are completely (or partially) different.