J. M. Barnes on singing and unity

J. M. Barnes on singing and unity

Anastasis

Justus McDuffie Barnes (1836–1913) Justus McDuffie Barnes (1836–1913)

In July 1896, J. M. Barnes embarked on a month-long preaching tour through the State of Texas, documenting his travels in a series of articles in the Firm Foundation. Barnes was, without question, the leading conservative in Alabama during the years between the close of the Civil War and his own death in the spring of 1913. But he also travelled extensively, and was a regular writer for, among others, the Gospel Advocate and Benjamin Franklin’s American Christian Review.

This is an illuminating series for, among other things, its insights into congregational life in the 1890s. Beginning on the first Sunday in August, Barnes recounts that he preached a ten-days’ meeting at the Pearl and Bryan Streets church in Dallas, “in some respects the most remarkable body in my whole knowledge.”

Barnes is blunt over the course of several articles as he describes the state…

View original post 999 more words

Advertisements

Why Are Our Camp Songs Older Than the Campers?

by Matt Bassford — Wednesday, October 28, 2015

A couple of weeks ago, the Joliet church held our annual youth day. We invited young people from across Chicagoland to come to Joliet for a Saturday to participate in Bible classes intended for their age group, sing, and hang out at the homes of various members. As we typically do, Josh Collier and I divided up the songleading between us, and we solicited hymn requests from those in attendance. Here are some of the requests I remember:

· We Bow Down

· Here I Am to Worship

· As the Deer

· We Will Glorify

· You Are My All in All

· How Deep the Father’s Love

· Glorify Your Name

On a surface level, these hymn requests appear to justify a point that is often made during discussions of contemporary hymns. Even in cases where the content of a contemporary hymn is lacking, brethren often defend its use in worship because “It’s what Our Young People like to sing.” Clearly, that’s the case. All of the hymns on the list above (some good, some not-so-good) come from a contemporary/camp strain of hymnody.

However, that answer merely invites another question. If Our Young People like to sing those hymns, why do they like to sing them? It could be that this is an example of popular, contemporary Christian music forcing its way into the kingdom. You have Christian teenagers who encounter these songs online or at a friend’s house and demand that they be introduced into a camp setting.

I think there’s some value in that, provided that it isn’t carried too far (I don’t think you want the least spiritually mature members of the congregation setting the worship agenda), but it doesn’t appear to be what’s actually happening. The praise songs in question are too old.

“We Bow Down” was written in 1984. “Here I Am to Worship”, in 2000. “As the Deer”, in 1984. “We Will Glorify” has a copyright date of 1982. “You Are My All in All” was copyrighted in 1991. “How Deep the Father’s Love”, in 1995. “Glorify Your Name”, written in 1976, is older than I am.

The most recent song on that list, “Here I Am to Worship”, is 15 years old. I remember when I first started getting interested in pop music, back in 1989. A lot of the music I started exploring came from my brother, who is 13 years older than I am. Even with his help, though, the very oldest bands and albums I started listening to came from no further back than 1980, about 10 years in the past. Anything older than that, I would have identified as “oldies”, coming from a musical era different than my own.

This suggests to me that whoever is pushing the body of contemporary hymns and praise songs (and I think somebody is), it isn’t Our Young People. I think it’s their parents. A few months ago, when various Joliet kids returned from summer camp, “Sanctuary” (copyright 1982) made a couple of Sunday-morning appearances, which thankfully have not been repeated. Afterward, I overheard one of the brethren in my age cohort talking about how “Sanctuary” was to him one of those core Bible-camp experiences.

Here’s how this works. 40-year-old camp counselor is preparing an evening devotional. He thinks back to the time when he was a teenager at camp, and he remembers the praise songs he loved to sing then. He introduces them into a spiritually and emotionally charged setting. Forever after, the campers associate those praise songs with the spiritual high they felt that evening, so they ask for them to be led (or lead them) whenever the opportunity arises. Other Christians observe this pattern, conclude that Our Young People really like contemporary hymns, and push for their inclusion everywhere.

In reality, the driving force here is not progress, but nostalgia. Contemporary praise songs are benefiting not from their innate appeal to Our Young People, but from the camp devotional experience. I suspect that any hymn introduced into such a setting will quickly become a camper favorite, even if it’s 300 years old.

Counselors, then, have a golden opportunity to spiritually shape their young charges. There are good, emotionally powerful hymns from every era of English hymnody. Introduce those. Don’t lean on the mixed body of contemporary hymns, just because they’re contemporary. Singing a spiritually pointless praise song from the early ‘80s is a waste. Admittedly, it does reflect a certain set of preferences, but those preferences don’t belong to the campers. They belong to those who are supposed to be instructing them.

http://hisexcellentword.blogspot.com/2015/10/why-are-our-camp-songs-older-than.html

Traveling Music (ReMix)

Here is yet another iteration of a “re-run” post from a different venue several years ago, engendered this time by scanning old iPod tracks on the ever-more-repetitious journey down I-65 from Chicago to Indianapolis.  It is likely just babel/babble to anyone but me.  FWIW.

Mumford and Sons – Babel – ROCKS!

But it also engenders reservations, similar to their first album, about which I posted the following on 21 January 2011.

In an earlier post I mentioned listening to the musical group, Mumford & Sons while driving near the end of long trip.  Due to some questions, I took it down, lest anyone think I condone the use of profanity on that CD (Sigh No More).  I do not.  Here’s a response of sorts to some of the questions:

Presumably most people understand that mentioning a group, person, or work of art does not imply endorsement of everything in, on, or about it.  The track Timshel, referencing Genesis 4 and resonating Steinbeck’s East of Eden, does not imply endorsement of Steinbeck or all that is in the book.  Quoting a commentary on Genesis 4 does not mean accepting or recommending everything in it.  This is, one hopes, elementary for anyone willing to think about it.

I’m a sucker for clever lyrics, especially those with religious implications – even cryptic ones (especially when married to great harmonious melodies).  Who could not like the opening lines of the first track: “Serve God, love me, and mend – this is not the end…Sigh no more, no more.  One foot in sea and  one on shore.  My heart was never pure – You know me.”   Or, “If only I had an enemy bigger than my apathy I could have won” (from “I Gave You All”).

Or this:  “You told me that I would find a hole Within the fragile substance of my soul, And I have filled this void with things unreal And all the while my character it steals”  — followed by, “It seems all my bridges have been burned, But you say that’s exactly how this grace thing works – It’s not the long walk home that will change this heart, But the welcome I receive with the restart” (Roll Away Your Stone).

However, admixed with admirable thoughts expressed with dexterity are others of a baser sort…of infidelity and betrayal, doubt and denial.  Of course, many people, even those of strong faith, have experienced such thoughts and possibly even behaviors, as we succumb to various temptations to one degree or another.

Most vexing and disturbing is the gratuitous use (in Little Lion Man, CD track 7) of a common vulgarism meant to describe one of the most divinely pleasurable of human experiences – made into a cheap swear-word.  That is, of course the nature of profanity – taking something which is a should be special or limited to particular circumstances and profaning it by making it common or ordinary.  As several before me have noticed, if one wished to express extreme displeasure, one could at least use something REALLY unpleasant, like “Audit you, buddy!”

I realize one can hear such vulgarities at the mall or at a high school sporting event (to say nothing or college or pro games).  But it pains me to spend money to download or rip such junk.  One man’s opinion.

Other issues raised by such questions include how those who find such things objectionable should react.  Bury head in sand and ignore?  Boycott?  Draw up the bridge and retreat behind the moat?  Or recognize and engage when possible?  Do we read only that which has no objectionable material?  Hard to come by.  Can we be “fans” only of athletes, teams, or artists without flaw?  Good luck.

Late night thoughts from a fried brain at the end of a long day. Anybody want to sound off on this?  No obligation.

(A closing thought:  It is sobering, when contemplating passing an 18-wheeler in snow, to hear lyrics like, “In these bodies we will live, in these bodies we will die…for you were made to meet your maker.”  Hmmmmm)

 

Mind Your Music – by Doy Moyer

Mind Your Music – by Doy Moyer

Worth reading at

http://www.mindyourfaith.com/mind-your-music.html

 

Outline:

I. A Case for Mindful Singing
A. The Message of our Music
B. Music as a Communication Tool
II. A Brief Religious Musical History
A. What about Instruments?
B. What about women?
III. Fundamentals of Music
A. Role of the Song Leader vs the Role of the Congregation
B. Pitch
C. Rhythm
D. Expression
IV. Final Thoughts

Passages for reference:

Ecclesiastes 5:2-7
Romans 15:1-11
1 Corinthians 14
Ephesians 5:15-21
Colossians 3:12-17; 4:2-6
James 5:13

 

 

A HYMN FOR TODAY – Still The Cause Before Us

Still The Cause Before Us

Let all who stand with Christ the Lord,
Each good and faithful servant,
Take up the shield and bear the sword,
With heart and spirit fervent.
Behind the Rock of Ages,
And armed with holy pages,
If God be for us, who can fear?
Oh, let us be courageous!

The early saints held fast indeed,
And One would soon reward them;
For mounted on His battle steed,
“The Word of God” came toward them.
And through the slaughter glorious,
His army rode victorious!
Their cause, now aged two thousand years,
Is still the cause before us.

Almighty God, whose outstretched arm
Is certain to defend us,
We pray, where’er the present harm,
“Into the conflict, send us!”
By calling and election,
With power and protection,
Our cross of duty leads from here
To crowns of resurrection.

O God, we know by pressing on,
A field is ever nearing;
Where all our mortal strength is gone,
We lie down in the clearing.
Should nightfall overtake us,
The morning hymn will wake us!
And when our Life and Light appears,
Immortal Father, take us.

8.7.8.7.7.7.8.7 – C.A. Roberts, 2002                                                                                                                                                                    Tune: EAKIN – Robert Schumann, arr.                                                                                                                                                                    arr. C.A. Roberts and Sarah Roberts Jenkins                                                                                                                                                      #521 in Psalms, Hymns, and Spiritual Songs, 2012

Song book content (1 of 2)

An interesting post (one of several) by a fellow blogger and hymn enthusiast.

Earnestly Speaking

I’m calling this two-installment blog “Song book content” because its subjects, although they would typically be called “hymnals,” are more appropriately labelled “song books.”  The books that most churches use for “worship” content rarely consist primarily in hymns, so I’m not using the term “hymnal.”

First, we should define a few words, inasmuch as such definition is possible.

  1. Song. A song, simply put, has words and a melody.  (Purely instrumental music is not properly called “song.”)
  2. Gospel song. A gospel song, you might think has to do directly with the gospel message, i.e., the good news that Jesus came, died for mankind, and was raised.  However, in the U.S., the “gospel song” is generally understood to be a song other than a hymn, and other than a contemporary Christian song.  More specifically, gospel songs tend to predominate among church songs written during the 19th and the first half…

View original post 358 more words

A HYMN FOR TODAY – Our Day of Praise Is Done

Our day of praise is done;
The evening shadows fall;
But pass not from us with the sun,
True light that lightest all.

Around the throne on high,
Where night can never be,
The white-robed angels of the sky
Bring ceaseless hymns to Thee.

A little while, and then
Shall come the glorious end;
And songs of angels and of men
In perfect praise shall blend.

SM (6.6.8.6) – John Ellerton, 1871

Tune: ST. THOMAS – Aaron Williams, 1763

#136 in Psalms, Hymns, and Spiritual Songs, 2012