Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Potpourri Post

I have been saving some miscellaneous items to pass along, so without further ado …

The first item comes from Dr. Michael J. Kruger at Canon Fodder.  He has begun a series entitled “Taking Back Christianese.”  He has just three posts in the series—the first an introduction.  As an aside, I regularly read Dr. Kruger’s posts and highly recommend them.

Hymn-writing is not dead as evidenced by Pastor Chris Thoma who posted three of his own works at Brothers of John the Steadfast.  They are “O, Lazarus, Come Out,” “The King Has Invited, Who Then Shall Refuse,” and “Mighty Lord, O Faithful Shepherd.”  With continued meat and potatoes being produced by men such as this, why do we clamor after the cotton candy found in popular Christian music for our worship?

Speaking of worship, Jonathan Aigner has a great post entitled “Why WOULD Anyone Sing in Church These Days?”  Aigner follows the devolution of worship from the historic liturgy to the modern stage performance.  I liked his three concluding points:
  • Do music that is meant to be sung, and in a way that encourages healthy, hearty singing.
  • Stop the Hillsongization of congregational singing.
  • Recognize that singing is, in and of itself, a sacred duty.
Bosco Peters picks up on that post in “The Day Church Singing Stopped,” agreeing with Aigner’s thesis.  I mention this post, because there is one well-stated comment that should be highlighted:
Mainstream popular music depends on a principle of planned obsolescence: a song is big hit for a short time and is then quickly replaced by the next big hit.  Within this environment, it’s easy to lose sight of the power of tradition.  There’s no musical experience quite as powerful (for an adult, that is) as singing a hymn that you’ve heard and sung since childhood.  All those moments of singing the same hymn begin to pile up and create layers of meaning and emotion.  I pity the congregation that abandons that kind of experience in pursuit of newness.
This is most certainly true (to borrow a phrase from Martin Luther).  If you want the next generation to fall away, feed the flock with whatever is fleeting.  However, if you want to leave a Christian legacy, build with what endures.

Lastly, I offer a post by Alexei Sargeant that asks the question, “Where has all the dark Christian music gone?”  He compares the “happy-clappy” music of the Christian industry with stanzas mixing hope with finality found in “O God Our Help in Ages Past” by Isaac Watts.  The author is Roman Catholic, so I disagree with some of his comments, but I want to note one paragraph:
The message, however, is not one of despair, though it paints a shadowy picture of earthly life.  It’s an admonishment to remember the transience of all things save God.  He and He alone is “our eternal home”—to everything else we say, this too shall pass.  For the poor and poor in spirit, it’s actually a comforting message. We feel ill at ease in the world because the world is not where our hearts should rest.  Psalm 90, the basis of the song, travels from fearful awe (“We are consumed by your anger/ and terrified by your indignation”) to a hopeful plea (“Make us glad for as many days as you have afflicted us,/ for as many years as we have seen trouble./ May your deeds be shown to your servants,/ your splendor to their children”).  It’s a psalm for all seasons, following a winter believer towards a dream of spring.

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