Some More Thoughts on Music

Discussion in '2003 Archive' started by Dale McNamee, Aug 4, 2003.

  1. Dale McNamee

    Dale McNamee
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    Hello Everyone!
    I came across these quotes on anothyer site and found them interesting and hope that you do too.

    In Christ,
    Dale

    Today’s WORSHIP QUOTE is from a new book by John Witvliet. He directs the
    Calvin Institute of Christian Worship and serves as dean of the chapel and
    associate professor of worship, theology, and music at Calvin College.
    (www.calvin.edu/worship)


    MUSIC AS WORSHIP
    Many of us who devote our lives to enriching Christian worship do this
    because we were transformed at or more points along the way by the Spirit-charged
    power of music to express our prayer and proclaim the gospel. Music, however, is
    a mysterious and elusive art. Augustine, for example, worried that the same
    transcendent beauty of music that inspired his praise might also be a huge
    distraction from worship’s deepest purpose. This worry is only intensified in and
    era in which music is not only an art but also a commodity.

    —John D. Witvliet, WORSHIP SEEKING UNDERSTANDING: WINDOWS INTO CHRISTIAN
    PRACTICE. (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2003), p. 17. ISBN 0-8010-2623-7.


    [Is our worship music a commodity, a collection of the newest and best? Or is
    it principally a vehicle for faithful prayer and praise, for confession of
    sin and rejoicing in the forgiveness that is ours in Christ alone? This book is
    a collection of essays that explore the meaning and practice of Christian
    worship. The various chapters highlight the interdisciplinary aspect of worship
    studies—historical, biblical, theological, musical and pastoral. Not a quick
    read, but highly recommended.]

    Have a great week.


    Chip Stam
    Director, Institute for Christian Worship
    School of Church Music and Worship
    Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
    Louisville, Kentucky
    www.carlstam.org
    www.sbts.edu/icw

    Today’s WORSHIP QUOTE is another from a new book by John Witvliet. The author
    directs the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship and serves as dean of the
    chapel and teaches worship, theology, and music at Calvin College.
    (www.calvin.edu/worship)


    MUSIC AS SOUL FOOD
    Music has the uncanny ability to burrow its way into our spiritual bones.
    When it comes to matters of spirituality and faith, we are what we sing.

    There is no need to overstate the case. Music is not all-powerful. Many
    things shape our souls, including our parents’ attitudes, our friends’ priorities,
    and our television consumption. But music is certainly among these potent
    soul-shaping forces. As Aristotle and many since have claimed, music has formative
    power. It will either corrupt us, inoculate us, or—to use a Pauline
    phrase—build us up.

    This is especially true of the music we sing in church, for this music is
    offered in the name of God. The guardians of our liturgical music have much to
    say about the music that feeds our souls. Pastoral musicians have the important
    and terrifying priestly task of placing words of sung prayer on the people’s
    lips—and not only words but also the melodies that interpret those words and
    give them affective shape. This happens every time they choose a song and
    accompany a hymn. Such musicians also have the holy task of being stewards of God’s
    Word. Choices of which anthem texts and theological themes will be featured in
    worship represent a degree of control over people’s spiritual diets. To say
    it in a sentence, to be a church musician—and by extension, a music editor,
    hymnal committee member, or church music professor—is to be a spiritual dietician.

    —John D. Witvliet, WORSHIP SEEKING UNDERSTANDING: WINDOWS INTO CHRISTIAN
    PRACTICE. (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2003), p. 231-232. ISBN 0-8010-2623-7.


    Have a great week.


    Chip Stam
    Director, Institute for Christian Worship
    School of Church Music and Worship
    Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
    Louisville, Kentucky
    www.carlstam.org
    www.sbts.edu/icw
     
  2. DanielFive

    DanielFive
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    Dale,

    Thanks for posting this, I remember reading the Confessions of St.Augustine and being greatly challenged by his thoughts on Psalm singing, I'll post a chapter here for everyone to read. In this chapter he deals with the Psalms and their use in worship. It might explain some of my own posts.

    I'm going to check out the links you provided. Thanks again.


    Confessions of St.Augustine
    Book Ten, Chapter XXXIII

    The delights of the ear had more firmly entangled and subdued me; but Thou didst loosen and free me. Now, in those melodies which Thy words breathe soul into, when sung with a sweet and attuned voice, I do a little repose; yet not so as to be held thereby, but that I can disengage myself when I will. But with the words which are their life and whereby they find admission into me, themselves seek in my affections a place of some estimation, and I can scarcely assign them one suitable. For at one time I seem to myself to give them more honour than is seemly, feeling our minds to be more holily and fervently raised unto a flame of devotion, by the holy words themselves when thus sung, than when not; and that the several affections of our spirit, by a sweet variety, have their own proper measures in the voice and singing, by some hidden correspondence wherewith they are stirred up. But this contentment of the flesh, to which the soul must not be given over to be enervated, doth oft beguile me, the sense not so waiting upon reason as patiently to follow her; but having been admitted merely for her sake, it strives even to run before her, and lead her. Thus in these things I unawares sin, but afterwards am aware of it.

    At other times, shunning over-anxiously this very deception, I err in too great strictness; and sometimes to that degree, as to wish the whole melody of sweet music which is used to David's Psalter, banished from my ears, and the Church's too; and that mode seems to me safer, which I remember to have been often told me of Athanasius, Bishop of Alexandria, who made the reader of the psalm utter it with so slight inflection of voice, that it was nearer speaking than singing. Yet again, when I remember the tears I shed at the Psalmody of Thy Church, in the beginning of my recovered faith; and how at this time I am moved, not with the singing, but with the things sung, when they are sung with a clear voice and modulation most suitable, I acknowledge the great use of this institution.

    Thus I fluctuate between peril of pleasure and approved wholesomeness; inclined the rather (though not as pronouncing an irrevocable opinion) to approve of the usage of singing in the church; that so by the delight of the ears the weaker minds may rise to the feeling of devotion. Yet when it befalls me to be more moved with the voice than the words sung, I confess to have sinned penally, and then had rather not hear music. See now my state; weep with me, and weep for me, ye, whoso regulate your feelings within, as that good action ensues. For you who do not act, these things touch not you. But Thou, O Lord my God, hearken; behold, and see, and have mercy and heal me, Thou, in whose presence I have become a problem to myself; and that is my infirmity.
     
  3. Ruth

    Ruth
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    Bless you, Enda, for posting that chapter by St. Augustine from his work. His final paragraph describes exactly my internal struggles over the years. If I remember correctly, we touched on this subject during a previous discussion we had.

    I did not sing for years due to my distaste for people who wanted only to hear my voice, not the words I was singing. It has only been in the past few years that I started singing again, and I still struggle mightily with the feeling that they do not hear what I am singing about, but only the sound of my voice. I know several other talented vocalists who have the same impression I do. On the other hand, God gave me this voice to use for Him - so am I not sinning when I don't use it for His glory?

    It is a great relief to me to find that there have been listeners who realized the fine line that we walk. Thank you so much!

    Ruth [​IMG]
     
  4. Aaron

    Aaron
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    Excellent quotes!
     
  5. Travelsong

    Travelsong
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    Do you feel you glorify God less when people concentrate on the aesthetic of your performance?
     
  6. Ruth

    Ruth
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    Travelsong,

    When I sing, the only time I feel as if I am not glorifying God is when I overthink my performance - like when you don't know a piece of music well and have to watch it very closely to keep up. As long as I have had sufficient practice on the music, though, I personally do not have any doubt that I am giving God the glory!

    My concern, and that of my fellow singers, is that we are not just making sounds - there is a message in the lyrics that we want the listeners to hear. And when the feedback we get is only about the sound, it makes us feel as though we have failed in what we were trying to do.

    Ruth
     
  7. yod

    yod
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    Are you responsible for the actions (or in this case REactions) of others?

    If you have a calling from God to sing to His glory can you deny it because of how others may receive it?

    Where would Jeremiah be if he had that same conviction?

    God rebuked Israel for how they liked Ezekial's voice but never told ole' Zeke to be quiet!

    hello? [​IMG]
     

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