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03 December 2007

Survery SAYS...

I often enjoy getting feedback from you, though I'm learning that it's generally preferred that I get into Scriptural truths rather than ask questions. However, here goes the latter...

A local radio station here in the Huntsville, AL area plays non-stop Christmas music from roughly the first of December through Christmas. (You can click on the link to hear streaming audio from the station, lite 96.9.) Years ago they played all traditional music, but now it's a mix of newer and older music.

Sunday afternoon I was listening to the station, and a hideous rendition of "Joy to the World" came on. It was by Mariah Carey; apologies to the one or two of you who may like it. From the instrument arrangement to the choral parts and so-called "lead singing," this stinker is absolutely rotten ("Yes, but how do you really feel, Dean?"). I listened to it for a verse and chorus and then suddenly thought, "I'd better turn this off, or else I'll start despising the real song altogether!" So I turned it off. The song unfortunately remains seared upon my neural pathways like overcooked haddock in an ungreased skillet.

On the flip-side, I was driving to church yesterday morning and tuned in right in the middle of "Linus and Lucy." I immediately and involuntarily began to smile. I love this song! In fact, I don't think I know anyone who doesn't. I regretted that I hadn't turned the radio on a minute earlier so I could've caught the whole thing. At that moment I couldn't really have felt bad if I wanted to.

These innate emotions and others like them make me believe that people often simply can't go against the way a piece of music makes them feel. In the Church, for all the talk there is about someone's heart being in the right place and worship being a natural follow-on regardless of how they feel about a song or a style, we simply can't remove the human psyche from the equation when we're talking about congregational music.

One of the challenges I and many others face every week is providing music as an avenue of worship for a group of people who'd otherwise never be in the same room together, much less sing a song together. It can be a real challenge to sing and play in such a manner that people are neither distracted nor entertained, but are instead freed to offer thanks, praise, and requests to their Father, as well as lift one another's spirits (did anyone mention the word "edify" in the Church Speak list??).

Our commonality in this particular purpose -- coming together to worship regardless of difference in age, background, or social status -- is one aspect of the local church fellowship that cannot be mirrored in any secular area I can think of, and it's fantastic!

I wonder (applied more to "institutional" churches rather than home churches), when you attend worship services with your local congregation, are you able to talk to God while singing a song that you just don't like? If not, how long does it take you to get back to a point where you actually mean what you're singing?

For instance (using a "blended service" as the example), if you're one who is able to pour your heart out to God in a song like "Draw Me Close to You" but the music leader begins the service with "There Is a Balm in Gilead," what would be the "recovery time" if he or she does the "Balm" song first?

Alternately, if you start with "Trading My Sorrows" ("Yes, Lord, yes, Lord, yes, yes, Lord. Yes, Lord, yes, Lord, yes, yes, Lord. Yes, Lord, yes, Lord, yes, yes, Lord, amen."), how long would it take you to be able to sing "Great is Thy Faithfulness" and sing it as a heart-felt personal prayer?

Links to music in this post refer to, an online streaming music service which allows for 25 free song plays per month. A free account signup is required, as is installation of proprietary software. I should note that the software is virus- and spyware-free. I've found Rhapsody to be a great value for the... ah... investment.

Oh, and a word of caution... Don't click on the Mariah Carey link in the third paragraph!!! If you do, please resist the urge to sign up for an account at Rhapsody! Do so at your own peril, and at the risk of losing all Christmas cheer!


Leroy said...

Personally I find that I can go from a 7-11 chorus (7 words sung 11 times) to a traditional song and not get lost in transition. Normally that is. I'm sure there are days. But on those days I think I would find that my mind/heart is focused on something else or some where else. So I guess it depends on why you are at church in the first place. The 7-11 or traditional song were both written to honor and glorify God, and that's why we are there. The tempo of the song (or lack thereof) isn't a good reason to lose focus. Is it?

Jan Owen said...

Yes, Dean this is a struggle for worship leaders to cross cultural boundaries and just personal preferences to actually lead a group of people in worship. Like I tell my team - we don't always sing my favorite songs either! But usually I do okay worshiping if it's just not a horribly done song that distracts me. I think this is what maturing as a worshiper is all about - being able to honor someone else's preferences or needs. And I think your point about not being able to ignore the human psyche is SO spot on. It's like saying in a couple's life there is no need for romance or taking the time to set the table for a nice meal. Yes, our heart should be in the right place, but the truth is we are all different and like different things, respond in different ways, are just generally made with different personalities, life experiences, etc. All of that goes into the equation. There is a balance here.

Bill Fowler said...

Not only do I love Mariah Carey, but Melanie and I enjoyed overcooked haddock in an ungreased skillet last night.

You sir are on report!

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