Archive for September 17th, 2007

Why Can’t Christians Sing Some Other Songs?

other musicOn an earlier thread BuddyO suggested that I set up a page like “Some Good Books” but this time we could list our favorite songs. Soon after making an attempt, I gave up. The task seemed impossible. I initially tried to limit the list to my top ten favorite songs. Then my top 20. I soon realized that 100 would be too small of a number and even then I would likely forget one or two. My tastes run the gamut from Buddy Guy to Beethoven, Pat Metheny to Neil Young, Sinatra to Sabbath.

Looking over my list I noticed that there weren’t any Christian praise or worship songs. At that moment some popped into mind; “Amazing Grace”, “It is Well with My Soul”, “Ave Maria” and maybe one or two more. Other than maybe “He Reigns” by the Newsboys I couldn’t think of any modern praise songs that I might put on my list of 100 (or more) all time great songs.

This past weekend I got involved in a discussion over the appropriateness of using secular music in worship services. In particular some people were concerned about Bono and U2 becoming so popular among many outwardly spoken Christians. They seemed to think that this style of music is lacking in the proper decorum and respect and perhaps is even Satanic. And these aren’t old folks talking.

I was reminded of a debate I had with some friends in my old church over whether or not it was acceptable to invite secular performers to play at our outdoor fundraising events. My argument was that, if the Christian artists weren’t attracting people, what was the point of throwing good money after bad. In fact, if the secular performers could draw some of the ‘unsaved’ to our church, where they might just be exposed to the Gospel, wouldn’t that be a ‘good’ thing? Why weren’t the “Christian” artists drawing an audience? I have a few theories;

<!1 They were singing to the converted. To everyone else the message was lost.

<!2 They weren’t very original. Seems like they all use the same play list of about two dozen songs.

<!3 Their music, relatively speaking, isn’t all that good. (At least that which isn’t found on the approved master play list). Much of it is as safe as elevator music. Lyrical pablum.

On the other hand there are a number of secular songs out there that are very spiritual, if not even outright religious in nature. And they’re pretty good on top of it. Does someone need to be labeled a “Christian Artist”, devoting all their music to overt praise and worship songs, to be considered spiritually acceptable? Or is it possible that there may be some very talented people, who in their own fashion, are relating to God musically? Duke Ellington once said that every piece he composed was a prayer sent to heaven. Perhaps we could liven up some of our services by playing some of this ‘other’ music.

Whenever I say your name, whenever I call to mind your face
I’m already praying
Whatever bread’s in my mouth, whatever the sweetest wine that I taste
Wherever I lay me down, wherever I rest my weary head to sleep
Whenever I hurt and cry, whenever I’m forced to lie awake and have to weep
Whenever I’m on the floor
Whatever it was that I believed before
Whenever I say your name, whenever I say it loud, I’m already praying

Whenever I say your name,
No matter how long it takes,
One day we’ll be together

Whenever I say your name,
let there be no mistake
that day will last forever




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