Friday, October 28, 2005

Silly Loves Songs

Have you ever noticed how you are sort of bonded to the music of your coming-of-age years even if lots of it was REALLY stupid? That you can have an intense emotional reaction hearing one of those songs being piped over the PA system at the supermarket while you are shopping for ground beef and toilet paper? Something about the intenisty of that stage of life infuses itself into that music regardless of its quality.

I think the same principle operates in church music. You kind of bond to particular church music that you associate with times of personal conviction, conversion or other spiritual breakthroughs. Case in point: I'm one of the clergy leading a regional retreat this weekend. I haven't done this for this particular organization for about ten years, so there are lots of new songs in their song book. This outfit is more happy clappy than my usual crowd, so my gag reflex was starting to kick in on some of these new pieces that are definetely of the "Jesus is my boyfriend" variety.

Then they played one particular praise chorus that was part of my sojourn with the evangelical Anglicans in high school. On the face of it, it is musically worthless, poetically stupid, and theologically on shaky ground. The tears streamed down my face, my heart opened up--the Spirit seemed closer than in weeks.

Perhaps this is part of why music wars in church can be so vicious. It's not about the quality of the music, but about the spiritual experiences people associate with the music.

7 comments:

Songbird said...

I feel the same way about the songs I learned in Young Life.

peripateticpolarbear said...

I don't feel really emotional about my high school churchey songs (I am sentimental about hymns from seminary, but those are good ones at least). I am grateful to have learned them, though, as they got me through many a Bible class.

Apostle John said...

As Pastor/Church Staff Appreciation Month comes to a close, know that you are appreciated for what you do in God's work.

Quotidian Grace said...

You're right. I'm going to remind myself of that the next time I start squirming during a praise song. There are a lot of people who find them inspiring and I need to respect that.

Lorna said...

I reacted badly to one song in church today. still puzzling why.

sigh

Susie said...

I think you are right on here. Thanks for the post.

Susan said...

This is an important point which, once noticed, is too often quickly dismissed as sentimentalism and on we go, promoting the one kind of music thought to be "the right kind for church" (whatever that might be). The development of a generous spirit when it comes to what people experience in corporate worship is rare. Can I not delay the personal gratification of singing a song "I like" so that my sister or brother might now be touched in some way? My "turn" will certainly come if the atmosphere is one of generosity. I think we'd have fewer "wars" if we recognised how varied musical expression can be toward God among His people.