Modern Song Writing

Discussion in '2000-02 Archive' started by Dr. Bob, Jan 10, 2002.

  1. Dr. Bob

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    After WWII there was a rebirth of good Christian music. John W. Peterson, Al Smith, Harold DeCou, Moody Bible Institute's radio personalities - lots of new songs, cantatas sung in our Baptist churches.

    Then in the late 60's and 70's, the fokl and hippie influence came in and the newer songs seemed much more shallow. Kum-bi-yah, Pass It On, He's Everything to Me, Jesus Christ Superstar - well, you get my drift.

    This led to the new CCM genre of Praise and Worship types of songs and choruses. Old fashioned choruses had little meat or substance and were basically for children (e.g. Give Me Oil in My Lamp) but these new ones were a mixed bag. Some were excellent doctrinally; others were repititious non-thinking songs. Folks like Crouch or the Gaithers have some of each.

    Would like some opinions on where you see music for our churches heading in this next generation. We just had a Tom Fetke?? cantanta that was excellent, but not ranked anywhere near one of John Peterson's average works.

    Thoughts?

    [ January 10, 2002: Message edited by: Dr. Bob Griffin ]
     
  2. Roy

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    I was a teen-ager in the late 60s and through part of the 70s and remember seeing changes in church music come about. Baptists seemed very gullible in accepting everything that came along. I can remember hearing high praises for the Simon and Garfunkel tune "Bridge Over Troubled Water." It was a song about a heroin trip, but many Baptists were convinced that it was about Jesus.

    Today, I like the old hymns because of the powerful messages they typically contain, ex: "Oh Worship the King," "All Hail the Power of Jesus' Name," "When I Survey the Wondrous Cross," and even "Amazing Grace."

    In the church that I attend now, the song service is very long, and a good bit of it is from choruses which are printed on the bulletin...lots of repetitious little ditties that have some meaning. There are also a lot of loud instruments in the church. Sometimes it is so loud that the choir can hardly be heard.

    What do you think of this Dr.Bob? I once heard the late J. Vernon McGee say that if music appeals to the flesh, it is probably not fit for worship.
     
  3. Kellisa

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    I see the music of most churches today turning more to the Contemporary Worship Style. I personally am not fond of this type of music. I think it leans much to the emotional side instead of reality. I also feel that it focuses on the love of Christ and less on the separation and sacrifice of our old ways once we receive Christ. I know that much of the contemporary music I have heard recently is quite similar to the secular music I listened to before I was saved. I personally like the old hymns and Southern Gospel music. It makes me sad to think these are slipping away from so many churches. I was just turned onto Southern Gospel Music almost 3 years ago, but I can't believe how clearly it presents the message of Jesus Christ.
     
  4. rsr

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    Dr. Bob, it is truly a mixed bag. But there is some excellent work being done. Cindy Berry, for example, has written some fantastic, gorgeous, exhilirating (desperately searching for another adjective :D ) anthems for choirs.

    For our church's centennial, the choir presented "Experiencing God," which is based on Henry Blackaby's book. It's a mixture of what some might call "contemporary" music with great old hymns and narration. The play list:
    Titles include: Name of Names; Speechless; Eyes of Your Heart; Open the Eyes of My Heart with Be Thou My Vision; My Abba's Child with Abba Father, Abba Father; On My Knees; When I Survey the Wondrous Cross; Use Me, Send Me with Just As I Am; Have Thine Own Way, Lord with Have Your Way in Me
    [​IMG]

    [ January 11, 2002: Message edited by: rsr ]
     
  5. Daniel

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    Generally I agree with Dr. Bob on his analysis of Christian music writing trends. We have seen an evolution into the user-friendly, experience-oriented church music in the last 30-35 years. The GREAT HYMNS OF THE FAITH are getting "short-sheeted" (an old dormitory term...remember?) to the disservice of our young people. I will be 41 years old tomorrow and I have grown up through this whole evolution. I remember when it started. I know the part the Gaithers played in the change to this type of music. (I am NOT anti-Gaither, BTW) My only concern as a minister of music, music teacher, choir director, composer, pianist, etc. is the WEAKNESS of the vast majority of this music in terms of doctrine an even musicality. Aside from the Cindy Berry and perhaps to a lesser extent Tom Fettke examples, what is there in today's church music of worshipful substance? I know many will cite how various CCM songs have really blessed them. I am positive that is the case; but, I am addressing the overall trend of church music and the "dumbing down" (Bill Bennett) of the whole genre. Yes, Cindy Berry can write songs like "Almighty, Unchangeable God" and "From Everlasting to Everlasting," but her type of compositions are rare in today's Christian music. As a trained, experienced and concerned musician I find that very sad and lamentable. What can we do? We can point people to the likes of Cindy Berry, Tom Fettke, Benjamin Harlin, Mark Hayes, etc. and encourage the use of these substantive modern-day composers. We can revive hymn-singing in our churches through "hymn history concerts and singspirations." (e-mail me if you would like more on that idea). We can stress broad-based balance in our church music programs. We can educate our music leaders and church musicians through choir seminars and camps like the annual event at the Wilds Camp and Conference Center each January in Brevard, North Carolina. There's so much we CAN do to "right the ship." Few, however, are willing to do what it takes...but I hope that this discussion will inspire some "takers." [As a sidenote, let me recommend a recording that is exciting, invigorating, worshipful and very well done. It is called REFUGE and is produced by Soundforth Music. You can look them up on the web. It is a phenomenal recording that backs up everything I have posted. It's is must-have for those that care about today's church music.] God bless all of you who truly care!!!

    [ January 11, 2002: Message edited by: Daniel ]
     
  6. Pennsylvania Jim

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    Wow, great posts. Thanks, Dr. Bob, for opening this one. I agree with your points and would like to state a few miscellaneous thoughts also:

    1) As to the musical quality of worship, I fear greatly for the next generation(s). The "praise and worship" advocates seem to be a very "driven" bunch, and seem (generally) to have disdain for anything deemed old or not trendy, and a desire to eradicate it.

    2) It occurs to me that for the most part the Church today is in a state of at least partial apostasy. Generally speaking of course. Many of the hymns and gospel songs were written at a time when God's people and the Church in general had a much more solid, vibrant faith. Could it be that God blessed during those times with the great hymns and gospel songs that were passed down to us? And, couldn't that explain why most of what has been written in the last 30 years is best used to light the wood stove?

    3) If it weren't so sad we could laugh at the fact that the liberal churches are the only ones left with conservative music.

    Just a little food for thought, hopefully.

    PA Jim
     
  7. rsr

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    Glaaad you left Cindy Berry out of the list. [​IMG]
    The real message, I think, is that there is a lot of "good" music out there waiting to be used.
    I love the old hymns. I can sing them by heart and they impart theology, just as "Now I Know My ABCs" do. In the rush to "modern" music, we can't overlook the fact that hymns must teach theology.
    On the other hand, some of the "modern" music is very worthwhile. I think the key is to use discernment. Dessert is not bad, but it can't be every course. ;)
     
  8. Dr. Bob

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    Appreciate the good thoughts thus far. I am NOT OPPOSED to modern writing, just wondering where the depth and quality of the music is.

    Hymns, Psalms, Spiritual Songs. Lots of the last two, but we are missing the "HYMN" part.

    Other comments? Living hymn writers?
     
  9. Bro. Curtis

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    I've said it before, on other threads...

    If God keeps his church on earth another 100 years, it IMHO we will still be singing Fannie Crosby, & nobody will know of most of these "modern" christian songs.

    Dwight Gustafson is an arranger of traditional hymns. I believe he is affiliated with B.J.U.
    Also, Benjamin Harlan, & Oliver Cooke, I don't know when they worked together, but the songbook I have was copywritten in 1990. These are traditional works our choir uses.

    Power in the Blood
    Blessed Assurance
    What a Friend We Have in Jesus
    In the Garden
    My Faith has Found a Resting Place

    You just can't go wrong with these precious hymns.
     
  10. Daniel

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    Another great source of hymn arrangements include THE WILDS in North Carolina. Even new tunes for the great ole' hymns! Check it out! [Yes, there are mixed opinions about the Wilds' music on this board, but by and large those arguments are straw horses...]
     
  11. Bro. Curtis

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    Amen, Daniel :D

    We use the Wilds a lot in our choir, I don't know how I forgot them.

    How far do you think you could go on a straw horse ? [​IMG]
     
  12. emopunker

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    What will you guys think if I tell you that I've played ELECTRIC guitar for my church?
     
  13. Circuitrider

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    Isn't it interesting that in the Word of God the subject of music occurs right in the passage that deals with the Christian walk, separation, holiness and the filling of the Holy Spirit. In that context Paul spoke of Psalms, hymns and spiritual songs.

    Putting the Psalms to music and singing them seems to be a lost aspect of worship in many lives and many churches. As I read through the Psalms I find myself singing the songs that I have learned from them.

    Hymns are lacking today because biblical theology and understanding of God, his attributes and doctrine has been minimized. Many today have bought into the idea that doctrine is boring or at best something for old men to argue, but not important to the present. The dumbing down of biblical Christianity has resulted in the lost of a strong biblical foundation for many. Hence a loss of hymns. Hymns have always been the church's means of teaching and reinforcing doctrine. ;)

    Many modern musical venues are focused on the "spiritual songs." Songs about life, experience and me. Experience is fine as long as it does not become equal to or more important than truth. :eek: Good music is going to be the result of the work of the Holy Spirit ---- Holy meaning set apart to God and spiritual meaning in keeping with the work of God's Spirit.

    As Baptists we need to go back into the Word of God and then let our music reflect our theology. :cool:

    Keep in the word!!
     
  14. Daniel

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    Circuit...thank you for your thought-provoking post. Naturally you will be pounced on by the ones whose toes were stomped on in your post, but I admire your courage in articulating the truth in a forthright and clear manner. You are by and large correct in your thoughts and ideas. There are places for worship choruses and other contemporary music that is doctrinally sound and free of excessive/overpowering secular elements (again a judgment call and subject to MUCH debate...as evidenced on this board!!! LOL!!!) But at least you are on the right track....keep on this road :cool:
     
  15. Daniel

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    Emo...our Pastor used an electric guitar at Christmastime in our church. We are by no means a CCM church in our music, but a tasteful use of the electric guitar can serve its purpose in church. Again, you don't "ram your EG down the throats" of the people if they don't want it. You allow a sweet reasonableness to characterize all that you do in the local church. We are servants, not wild Mavericks! ;)
     
  16. emopunker

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    Good stuff Circuitrider!

    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR> Hymns have always been the church's means of teaching and reinforcing doctrine. <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    Really? I thought that was more recently. Did they write hymns and stuff while the Israelites where slaves in Egypt? Or did Noah write hymns? I don't know... I haven't taken a lot of Biblical history stuff.

    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR> Many modern musical venues are focused on the "spiritual songs." Songs about life, experience and me. Experience is fine as long as it does not become equal to or more important than truth.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    I find great encouragement and hope in a lot of songs. Some that aren't even "Christian" (gasp!). It's nice for me to see ways that other imperfect humans can seek the face of God. Being rather young, I often face doubts, stuggles, trials, etc. Is it wrong for me to look to music as another source of strength (along with the Bible)?

    [ January 16, 2002: Message edited by: emopunker ]
     
  17. Bro. Curtis

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    As long as it is done prayerfully. I would recommed bible first, an independant new testament church would be second, & be very careful what music you surround yourself with. There can be beautiful music made with an electric guitar, but meditate on Mat 4:4.( KJV, some of the modern versions remove the 'but on every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God' ) I had to deal with this in my addiction to bluegrass gospel music. It was all I would listen to. I had to force myself to listen to enough other music in order to find the beauty in it.
     
  18. sjd

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    I have (almost) always had a wide taste in music. I enjoy hymns as well as contemporary christian music. Each serve a purpose within the Church.

    To disparage the hymnody would be to disparage many musical treasures. To disparage contemporary christian music would be to throw out the future. Yes, there are poorly crafted hymns. Some with bad theology, others with bad tunes. And so it is with contemporary music as well. There are good and bad. Not every song is going to be a hit from either a theological or musical standpoint.

    My guess is that some contemporary music will find its way into the established body of musical literature of the Church. I also believe that more and more churches will abandon large organs in favor of smaller synthesizers.This trend will occur because of the cost of a good sized organ in comparison with the synthesizer.

    Steve
     
  19. Pete

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    I can't stand the trend today towards wishy-washy sugar coated songs coming from some sources...however am optimistic enough to believe that it will just be a passing fad and I'll live to see Christians write like Watts/Wesley again. I'm only 33 so theres hope yet ;)

    Pete
     
  20. TaterTot

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    There are new hymns being written daily! I know personally some great musicians who have gotten some new hymns published. But, just think how long it took "It Is Well With My Soul" to become an old standard.
    I am also hoping to have some hymns published as well!
     

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