Thirty years after the inception of the Contemporary Christian Music movement it seems ridiculous that so many are still divided over this issue. It speaks volumes of the health (or lack thereof) of the Christian church today that we allow such petty issues to divide us when there are so many other issues that we should be grappling with.
Having said that, someone tried to pull me into just such a discussion recently. His objection to modern praises was that he felt the songs focus on ourselves while traditional hymns focus solely on God. My first reaction was that perhaps he should go back and revisit the lyrics of both genre of music. But I resisted the urge to be sarcastic and tried to listen. Problem was I was only allowed to listen. He just wanted to vent and was not expecting a response other than agreement and sympathy.
But I did have an opinion that I wanted to share. This is the fun part of having a personal blog. I can vent all I want. It’s my blog and I’ll vent if I want to.
As a music lover, I have a deep respect for the music of the church, from the old hymns to the repeated praise choruses to the more thoughtful and varied songs of today. Of course, I have my favorites but I love a wide range of styles of music so I am comfortable and able to respond to a wide range of worship styles.
I’ve been listening to an old Todd Agnew song lately, “Written on the Wall”. The chorus cries out:
‘Cause the sound of this world’s deafening, and I ‘m having a hard time listening, and I wish your will was still written in the walls.”
To me, helping me get back to a place where I can hear that one special song that God sings for me is the essence of a solid worship service. When I come to church on a Sunday morning (or whatever day/time your service is) I am coming with the dirt and grime of this world on the soles of my shoes, worked under my fingernails and ground into the fibers of my clothes. It will take me a moment to refocus.
‘Cause the sound of this world is really deafening and I’m having such a hard time listening.”
I’ve come running into church dragging a bleary eyed toddler behind me. I’ve trudged up the front steps after spending the day before with my dying father and couldn’t wait for service to end so I could get back to his bedside. I’ve been so tired after a rough week at work, a night out with friends, a fight with a rebellious teenager.
The sounds of the world…I’m having a hard time listening, Lord.
But then I hear the strains of music from within those four walls that aren’t meant to be walls at all. Sometimes the sound of a keyboard or piano, or maybe the sound of voices greeting each other after a hard week out in the world where it can be so hard to hear. As the congregation starts to sing, I join in. The world begins to fade. It slips gradually away. I love when that first song gently pulls me before the throne. A song about me. A song about myself and Christ. I guess my friend would have disagreed with me on this.
But don’t let it end there. Subsequent songs need to refocus us on the One who is the whole reason we are there. I allow the music, the prayer, the choice of Scripture leading up to the sermon help me to tune out the noise and tune into Christ and who He is – grace, love, mercy and peace.
And I’ll find that I didn’t even notice if an old hymn was sung or a praise chorus. It was simply my being led away from the world which is deafening and into His presence of peace. And the next time someone tries to start that some old argument with me, I’ll just let the music I hear in my heart play while the storm surges around me.
The LORD your God is with you,
He is mighty to save.
He will take great delight in you,
He will quiet you with his love,
He will rejoice over you with singing.”