Tuesday, March 20, 2018
The Church and Abuse of Music for Worship
I really wish churches would quit using “radio songs” — songs that are performed for CDs and broadcast and not meant for congregational singing.
A problem is that the congregation has no song book with the music, so we have to try to figure it out while the lyrics are posted. Of course those who buy the CDs and listen to “Christian” radio know the song, but the rest of us normal people have no clue.
Another problem is that the music is not designed for congregational singing and so can be complex. One song we did this week is Sovereign Over Us, and the tune for the lyrics was quite like a dirge. And of course there is the obligatory repetition of what the performing artist (in this case Michael W. Smith) decided needed repeating ad nauseam.
So, how do we learn the tune? Well, during the offertory the “worship” band (I despise calling a band a “worship band”) played the tune until we thought it would never end. Then after the offertory we were told of the new song as the lyrics were projected, and were informed that it was what the band had been playing. Then, after the sermon we sang it again for good measure!
The other “radio” song we sang was Rock of Ages (Jesus is the Rock), which needed the obligatory LOUD band. Between the volume of the band and the volume of the song-leader’s microphone, you really couldn’t hear the congregation singing — but perhaps that was because only the people who listen to the radio knew it!
At least, for the most part, the lyrics of these songs were okay, but, especially with Rock of Ages…, there was the incessant emotion-manufacturing repetition—exactly what you can expect from a Baloche song. I had one irritant with the lyrics to Sovereign Over Us: “Your plans are still to prosper.” Just where does Scripture say that God has ever had plans to prosper us? That sounds like one of two things: 1) the “prosperity gospel or 2) abusing Jeremiah 29:11. I’m guessing it is an allusion to the latter.
The whole point is that NEITHER of these songs should be used for corporate worship. They were written for performing and for private listening and should be kept there.
The second thing about abusing music in church is the ideology of singing “karaoke,” either with solo performances or with choirs. The worst thing about this is that the volume of the recording is always way too loud, making it difficult to hear the singers. This Sunday I couldn’t understand the vast majority of what the choir was singing because of the loud music. There have been times when the children sing in front of the congregation and the recorded music is so loud you can’t even hear the children at all!
What is it with the loud volume all the time in churches nowadays? The assembly we attend has the volume problem about 30% of the time, while others we’ve visited have the problem almost 100% of the time.
Please, church leaders, stop all this abuse of music!!! It gets to be very wearing. (We left right after the sermon so as not to be put through the torture of that repeat performance, and an elderly couple came out behind us complaining about how loud it was.)