On “Christian” Music, Revisited

I had a revelation today about “Christian” music and its efficacy and helpfulness. As you know, I’ve done a bit of work on this topic already, but licentia haud mortuus equus non vapulus (leave no dead horse unbeaten), so here we go.

 

The new problem, I discovered, with Christian pop, is that it’s Christian pop. By its very nature, it’s geared towards a specific audience. Not to say that that’s inherently wrong: each generation will have things it prefers over others, and that’s fine.

The problem here arises when we try to make these songs part of our credo. Americanism makes listening to these songs and artists almost an essential part of Christianity. You sing them in worship, you sing them all the time.

Nothing wrong with singing God’s praises. Nothing at all.

 

The point I’m making is that because pop music is geared towards a specific audience, that means that its not geared towards everyone else. If it’s Christian pop, it’s dividing the Church. Older people (and people with musical taste) just can’t sing along to this sort of thing with a clear conscious.

 

On the flip side, we have the hymns and the psalms. These are written for the people of God, of all ages. It’s no stranger to see a child humming along to A Mighty Fortress than it is to see his grandfather belting out the tenor line. But you would never see that grandfather playing air guitar to Skillet.

 

While it’s natural that different genres appeal to different people, we have to remember that there’s a genre that should appeal to all Christians and unite them: the psalms that God gave to us through David. We sing those together, young and old.

Christian pop, for all its faults, is not evil. However, we have to realize that it is not the music of the Church. It may even be helpful to some, and a way to express praise. But it cannot ever be allowed to take the precedence it currently has over music that unites the Body of Christ.

 

I realize that I may be making a bigger deal out of this than it is. But the principle I stress remains. Please comment with your thoughts.

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10 comments

  1. peter stam

    Have you ever thought that back in Martin Luther’s time they probably had crap music too?
    It is the best that is remembered and sung today the crap music from that time is forgotten
    so if you think that this “christian” pop is so bad just remember this in a hundred years nobody will remember half of it.

  2. peter stam

    So I say let time do the sorting it seems to have weeded out the music in the past that was only geared to certain audiences and left us the best that everybody enjoys (I have never met anybody who didn’t like “Abide with me” or “A Mighty Fortress”)

    • MadDawg Scientist

      I agree with that 100%. But it doesn’t mean we have to put up with that music now.
      Also, we are in the Age of Information…bad songs are still around from the 50s.

      I agree that the bad music will be weeded out…but we’ve got to weed it out. We can’t afford to be apathetic.

  3. Sam

    So, are we talking about the tune, or the lyrics? The Psalms truly are inspired, and should be enjoyed by all, but that doesn’t mean we have to sing them to the tune of old German songs. (Though I’m not arguing that we shouldn’t; I rather like them 🙂 )
    Why not sing the psalms to the tune of music that is more modern?

    • MadDawg Scientist

      I have several earlier posts relevant to this where I address both the tune and the lyrics.
      So, both.

      I’m glad you like the old German songs. They are solid musically, and beautiful.

      There’s a whole branch of theology that deals with psalm singing. As Nick pointed out, they are meant to be sung by a congregation. The modern styles of music are rarely conducive to this.
      I’ll address this more later, if you like.

  4. Nick House

    I think in this context you need to distinguish between Christian “worship” music and music that is Christian/made by Christians but not specifically aimed at “worship.” I like the Ember Days, but I don’t consider their music “worship”, even though they would.
    One of the main things to consider about modern Christian worship music is that it is not written to be sung by a congregation. It is written like a pop song, which means it is designed to be sung by one person, not by a mass of people. Hymns were written to be sung by congregations.
    More thoughts on this later.

    • MadDawg Scientist

      Good point Nick. I should have made that clearer. I think the point remains about bringing the people of God together, regardless of whether it is in worship or not, although of course worship is the most important realm where this needs to be dealt with.
      I’d love to hear your further comments.

    • MadDawg Scientist

      I think an important part of this is what you said, “even though they would.”
      If a distinction is to be made…well…it needs to be made. By us, and by them. If they understood the proper distinction between worship music and non-worship music, it makes our job as critical listeners much easier.

      Also, this post is mostly a ramble of general observations I had in a rare moment of clarity. Of course any exploration by my readers is welcome.

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