Sunday, November 22, 2009

Praise Music At Church - Thoughts of an Old Jesus Freak

My wife listens to Christian music throughout the day, so she knows some of the newer Praise songs off of the various WOW compellation CD’s that are sold at Christian bookstores and are prominently placed next to the cash register to encourage shoppers to buy the latest version of this CD, which I think comes out on an anual basis.

You will find CD right next to the TestaMints and Scripture Lollipops at the Family Bookstore.

I suppose that is how folks learn the music and lyrics these days. It is a lot of bother to read music, especially for a generation that has forgone learning to play guitar and instead uses a toy guitar and a video game to become a Rock Star.

Something must be wrong with me because of the way I feel at many modern churches during Praise Music time.

I must be turning into a Christian curmudgeon.

Anymore when I go to church, I do not know the tune or the lyrics to any of these songs. The songs all seem to sound alike. The lyrics are certainly similar. Linny knows some of them, but even she is unfamiliar with many.

I guess I am stuck in the 70's.

The sound systems in many of the churches are massive and extremely expensive.

When I was a kid, I sang in two different church choirs. Both had twenty watt Bogen P.A. amplifiers with no EQ and one ceiling mounted speaker on each side of the church.

The pastor used the microphone for his sermon. He had one of those old lapel mics with the cord dragging on the floor. The choir only had their voices.

The band was made up of an older woman who played the organ.

In the end run, perhaps computers, Power Point and computerized projectors may be less expensive than hymnals.

But have you ever priced those projectors? Most retail for around $4,000.

Perhaps it is because I was younger, but it never bothered me to stand up for all five verses of A Mighty Fortress Is Our God. I knew I was going to sit down after we were done and listen to the sermon.

However the Praise Times at church have you standing for 45 minutes or more. I suppose I would not mind, if I actually felt I was Praising God in song. I just don’t feel that way. I am certain that some folks are into this, because they are dancing, waving, clapping and doing the Pentacostal bop. That’s just not me.

Despite what Larry Norman sang, I really like the old hymns. Some of these have been handed down and have withstood the test of time. My daughter got me a couple of books last year about the stories behind the hymns. It was a very interesting read.

In one of my blogs I have done some research on one old Jesus Movement song called We Are One in the Spirit. The song has some history behind it regarding why it was written and how it gained popularity in those days. I know there are some modern Praise and Worship Music, such as those of Rich Mullins’ songs that have history.

As far as Praise Bands vs. Choirs, I like them both, but I sure learned a lot back in my choir days. One of the choirs hired graduate students from CCM as (dare I say) ringers to make the choir sound good. It was a good experience to learn from them and talk music with them. It would seem that more people could participate in a choir than the five or six musicians that form a Praise Band.

I suppose they serve a purpose, but drum cages are just plain weird next to the altar.

It is funny that I started out 35 or 40 years ago singing, playing and writing Christian songs with a rock beat with a guitar backing. We see what this music has evolved (can I use that word?) into in the Church and I cannot say I don't totally care for it, but perhaps it needs some tweeking. Most Black churches have always had a great blend of excellent choirs and bands.

Don't even get me started about Backing Trax!

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