Friday, September 24, 2010

Friday Five--music!

Over at RGBP, MaryBeth writes:
Music is a part of the human experience, and part of religious traditions the world over. It is evocative and stirring, and many forms of worship are incomplete without it.

Our title comes from a quote popularly attributed to St. Augustine: "He who sings prays twice." A little Googling, however, indicates that Augustine didn't say exactly that. In fact, what he said just doesn't fit well onto a t-shirt. So we'll stick with what we have.

"Singing reduces stress and increases healthy breathing and emotional expression. Singing taps into a deep, age-old power available to all of us. When we find our
voice, we find ourselves. Today, sing like you mean it." And let's talk about the role music plays in your life and worship.

1) Do you like to sing/listen to others sing? In worship, or on your own (or not at all?)
YES and YES and YES! :-)

2) Did you grow up with music in worship, or come to it later in life? Tell us about it, and how that has changed in your experience.
Since I didn't grow up in the church, no...I didn't grow up with music in worship. However, I did grow up a Camp Fire Girl, and we had our own rituals that included plenty of music...and my mom was a Camp Fire Girl before me and sang all the time...and we had plenty of music in my house! And some of those Camp Fire Girl songs still make appearances every now and then...

3) Some people find worship incomplete without music; others would just as soon not have it. Where do you fall?
I believe music is required...for me. I also believe worship isn't about me. So while "Sing to the Lord a new song" is one of the most important commandments, in my opinion, I also work really hard on at least wondering what my neighbor in the pew might need to worship more a range of worship experience, style, etc is important.

4) Do you prefer traditional music in worship, or contemporary? That can mean many different things!
Okay, so I used to be THE BIGGEST FAN of traditional worship (old hymns, organ, brass, professional level choir, nothing else) and THE BIGGEST HATER of "contemporary" worship. BUT...I have come to believe that a) all worship is contemporary and traditional in its own ways, and b) we have painted "contemporary worship" with this praise-chorus-brush that is not always true. I think we often think of contemporary worship the same way that the unchurched world thinks of Christians...we've been painted with the Religious-Right-Conservative-Politics-Megachurch brush which is not at all the way most Christians are. The same is true of contemporary worship music--it is not all the way we have stereotyped it (some is, it's true, but some Christians are like the stereotype too).
So: I like both. It's possible (we do it, in fact) to have contemporary worship music that is not IMeIMeIMe, not 7-11, not Jesus-is-my-boyfriend. It's possible to have traditional worship that is those things (I come to the garden, anyone?). Again, worship isn't about me, but it is about full expressions of who we are before God, and about communities worshipping together...and sometimes that means putting aside our stereotypes of what "worship" is. We have songs at our 830 ("alternative" aka with-a-band) service that I absolutely adore. We are able to bring in Carrie Newcomer or The Indigo Girls or David LaMotte. We sing hymns written in the 16th century and hymns written last week. We have words of the psalms, Calvin's words, David Crowder's words, and words written by members of our congregation. We have bluegrass, organ, singer-songwriter, gospel, jazz, spirituals, and edgy rock (one of our slogans is actually "from Bach to Rock"). The style is irrelevant as long as the purpose is to glorify God and enjoy God forever.

5) What's your go-to music ... when you need solace or want to express joy? A video/recording will garner bonus points!
I generally turn to the female indie singer-songwriters...the Indigo Girls, Carrie Newcomer...or to Mozart's 23rd piano concerto...though sometimes you just have to have a little Styx, you know?


  1. sounds quite familiar -
    maybe to my posting!?
    music is definitely a hot topic :)

  2. I saw Styx in concert. Boy am I old! This brings back great memories.

  3. yeah, that Augustine quote is long and full of "eth" words - "For he that singeth praise, not only praiseth, but only praiseth with gladness: he that singeth praise, not only singeth, but also loveth him of whom he singeth. In praise, there is the speaking forth of one confessing; in singing, the affection of one loving.”
    And yes, I use that quote in a footnote in my d.ed.min project final paper. And I love what you say and how you say it, about music.