My take on church music

I grew up in a very traditional church with high liturgy. Worship was very serious–not somber, but reflective. Not quiet, certainly, because there always was a big, booming organ with back-in-the-day surround sound, because the crazy pipes surrounded me as I sat in the girls choir area up by the altar. It was a beautiful thing.
 
Then in college I was a member of a church that still embraced some of the formal liturgy, but the music swung a bit more toward contemporary . . . and when I say contemporary, I mean twentieth century as opposed to earlier centuries. I sang in the choir with people who really knew what they were doing. I mean, one Christmas cantata in the second to last rehearsal, the choir director said, “And we’re going to add three pieces from the Messiah–we’ll go over them quickly in the final rehearsal.” And those people knew what they were doing! It was a beautiful thing, that music.
 
When we moved to our little town, we were members of a church that had WAY different hymns than I’d ever sung. Yes, they were still in a hymnal, but they seemed very Southern for an upstate-New-York-transplanted-to-northern-California girl. Then one by one, praise music was introduced. It was a beautiful thing singing in that church choir–a lot of fun, even though we didn’t know too much about what we were doing.
 
Now we are members of a church that has all modern music with drums and electric bass and flashy lights. It’s great exercise, moving to the beat and raising my hands. And what a beautiful thing it is, that music.
 
David sang–goodness, he wrote his own songs. And David danced. Some did not approve . . . but, you know, God did, because he decided to put that music in his Book.
 
Enough said.
 
Janet McHenryJanet McHenry is an award-winning speaker and the author of 24 books, including the bestselling PrayerWalk and her newest, The Complete Guide to the Prayers of Jesus. She would LOVE to be considered as the speaker for your next event. 
 
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2 Responses to “My take on church music

  • Mary Holder Naegeli
    3 months ago

    As a leader of worship since I was 12 (54 years ago), I have experienced (and in three congregations led) the music arc you describe here. Each generation has lacked something and gained something. History demonstrates that spiritual renewal is accompanied by new music, expressing the New Thing God is doing amongst his people. Having said that, I think the church must remain alert to the swings of the head-heart pendulum. I for one am starving for some content, and in worship leadership strive for balance (musical choices dictated by the day’s Scripture reading and/or theme). When we use the full musical library, we invite the great cloud of witnesses into worship with us.

    • Janet Holm McHenry
      3 months ago

      I so agree with your heart, Mary! I enthusiastically worship wherever I am . . . and when am feeling needy, remind myself that it’s not about what I need but what I offer to God. Adoration is worship. If I feel a tug for something different musically, I just open my hymnal or put on a CD in the car. 🙂

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