Hymns help to learn, to edify, not an excuse to sit back and be amused.

Had readers from Finland and Figi Islands, very cool thanks. And to the reader(s) in Brazil, thanks for your support, any input, especially anything that would resonate in Brazil (except soccer, do not do soccer 😉 ) would be appreciated. Thanks to all readers, ya, I know, compared to a lot of bloggers I’m small potatoes, but it’s still a huge kick to see folks from different countries popping up on my stat list. Thank you and please jump in and comment; “I love you, I hate you, you’re ugly, you dress funny,” whatever, it’s great getting feedback. Believe me I have no doubt I need to improve so your observations are appreciated.
I get feed back about the music at church, a lot, and I’m really sick of it! Nah, just kidding, believe me, I understand, some of it can seem kind of obscure. But first off, we have a crack minister of music, who makes that 3,000 pipe organ really go and he picks the music (so blame him). No, no, kidding again, he does a great job. He knows the right music to go with the lectionary, and the season and we all appreciate all that he does. But still the debate goes on and remember, trying to get the music to be more liturgical. Heck, we have this magnificent instrument and a guy who knows how to get the most out of it, you name the contemporary Christian musician and I probably like him or her, but Rich Mullins doesn’t play well on a huge church organ. So I will quote at length from the “The Study of Liturgy” (editors Cheslyn Jones, Geoffrey Wainwright, Edward Yarnold and Paul Bradshaw)
“…To sing a psalm or the Trisagion, to ring a bell or play the organ – these are every bit as much rites as are reading of a lesson, the saying of a prayer, a procession, or even the breaking of bread. As with any rite, the purpose of singing and music is to awake meaning and induce an attitude…”
“…Augustine goes so far as to say:
‘Apart from those moments when the Scriptures are being read or a sermon is preached, when the bishop is praying aloud or the deacon is specifying the intentions of the litany of community prayer, is there any time when the faithful assembled in the church are not singing? Truly I see nothing better, more useful or more holy that they could do (Ep 55.18-19; PL 33.204).
The liturgy is the shared activity of a people gathered together. No other sign brings out this communal dimension as well as singing… Many individual voices, however can actually be fused together, so that when they blend and follow the same rhythm, only one voice is heard – that of the group. This brings out a very strong feeling of unity and of belonging. It even touches on the essential mystery of the Church as koinonia.… John Chrysostom preached these words to his flock:
‘The psalm which occurred just now in the office blended all voices together and caused one single fully harmonious chant to arise; young and old, rich and poor, women and men, slaves and free, all sang one single melody … All the inequalities of social life are here banished. Together we make a single choir in perfect equality of rights and of expression whereby earth imitates heaven. Such is the noble character of the Church (Hom. 5; PG 63.486-70′”
“…The liturgy is a ‘festal gathering’ (Heb 12:22). A festival implies singing, music and dancing….The canticle of Moses, celebrating the deliverance of Passover, became the ‘new song’ of the Lamb (Rev 5.9; 15. 3-4) and, as such, the symbol of all who have been definitively saved by the One who makes all things new’ (Rev 21.5)…
…Basil can write: ‘…[The Holy Spirit] adds the grace of music to the truth of doctrine. Charmed by what we hear, we pluck the fruit of the words without realizing it (Hom in Ps. I; PG 29.211).”
Yeah, this is going to be my usual kavetch, but let’s get over this lame idea that music in church is “entertainment”. Can it be? Yes. Should it be? No, not necessarily. When you take Chrysostom’s perspective, people can come from all over the world, go back through the centuries, and another common touchstone would be the hymns. Yea, again my beef with the church of the past century, but the cheesey “Jesus loves me”, Tommy Dorsey pop music does not transcend, it infantalizes, but it doesn’t edify. Heck as a guy, I would say one of the big turnoffs for me in the United Methodist Church was this schmaltzy music, it wasn’t serious, it was emotion and sentiment, that’s not what being a Christian is about. Has there been good Christian music? Absolutely, but is it what unites Christians or is it too much one perspective?
One of the members of the congregation pointed out he counts how many personal pronouns (I, me, mine, our), versus lifting up in praise, acknowledging who Jesus is and not what our opinion is. As I’ve said before, I have no problem with contemporary Christian, I get into concerts as much as anyone. It’s not worship, it’s certainly a time of praise, but it is entertainment. We need to come into His presence, in His church and worship and glorify Him and quit expecting it to be for our glory and edification but His. I get it, a lot of times it’s difficult to sing, hmmm, how about this for an idea, learn to read music, it’s not that hard. Push yourself, try to get the meaning and message of the hymn. When you learn it, it stays with you, the hymn should complement the readings, the sermon, pull it all together and you should come away from worship genuinely fed.

2 thoughts on “Hymns help to learn, to edify, not an excuse to sit back and be amused.

  1. bestroofer

    Great to see that you are being so widely read! I agree with your post. So many churches now are busy trying to entertain, that sometimes the Word is being lost.


    1. Pastor Jim Driskell, Lutheran Church Post author

      Amen to that, worship is what is important. When we lose that we are just sitting around entertaining ourselves and we let God become even more irrelevant in our lives and in reaching out to others for salvation in Christ. Thanks Joe, it’s always really great to hear from you brother.



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