A member of our congregation sent me this WONDERFUL short video from YouTube. (If you are a subscriber to my blog, just click the title of today’s blog and it will take you straight to the HTLC website where you can view this YouTube video.)
As I listened to the music coming from “the heart” of everything and everyone whom our guy tested with the stethoscope, I began to think about times when I have worshiped with congregations where they use “praise music” — the claim is that this music is “coming from the heart” but hardly anyone actually sings.
I’m not thinking about the praise songs that have been derisively called “7-11 Songs” — the same seven phrases sung eleven times. I’m not thinking of what have been called “Jesus-is-my-boyfriend” lyrics — lyrics that could just as easily be used in a secular love song. At these services, the worship band does not play so loudly that worshipers can’t hear themselves sing (let alone hear the worshipers around them) and the worship planners don’t use “Jesus haze” — the theatrical “stage lighting complete with smoke” that is often used by the worship teams of very large churches. Even so, hardly anybody really sings.
So why do so few worshipers sing to God when the songs are “Praise Music” or “Contemporary Christian Music”? I think it is because worshipers are shown only the lyrics with no musical notes, so even those who read music can’t sing loudly to help lead the rest in singing. People who don’t already know any of these contemporary songs, can’t “belt out the music” because they have to listen so carefully to where the performers were going with the melodies. But I think the congregational singing is so weak during the “Praise Music” hymns because these contemporary Christian hymns were originally intended for performance, not congregational singing: the rhythms were too complex, the range is too great, and although the words are lovely, they really focus on “my feelings” (as in “Enough about God! Now let’s focus on me.”)
Don’t get me wrong! Any friend of Jesus is a friend of mine, and when I can’t worship at Holy Trinity, you’ll always find me in the midst of Christians who treasure the Word of God. Any friend of Jesus is a friend of mine. Even when I can’t sing any of the hymns, I can still pray. And for some people, I guess it just isn’t worship if they have to participate. But “studies have shown” that when liturgical churches offer only contemporary worship services, total worship attendance drops by 40% within a year of the change. I guess that’s because worshipers at a liturgical church don’t feel like it’s worship when they’re only spectators.
And the only reason I began to reflect on all of this again is because I noticed what “Stethoscope” heard beating at the heart of a Christian. Sounded pretty traditional to me.