For those that have been in church 20 or more years, you have no doubt noticed a shift in music.
We used to gather on Sundays, flip open a book (called a hymnal, or if you were REALLY up-to-date it would be a “chorus book”). The music team was often led by someone up front waving an arm up, down, left and right (sign of the cross?) and the “band” was a piano player or organ – and the back up singers were 50 in number … they called this a choir and they even wore choir robes. Everyone had a part to sing, whether it be Soprano, Alto, Tenor or Bass. Oh yeah, those books that they read from, had these little dots with lines going up or down. They were usually find on five lines that were stretched across the page.
Then … it went to song books which had several “updated” music in it. The arm waver was still there, as well as the music team, but maybe the addition of an acoustic guitar. The choir group, became an octet … and they all matched outfits, usually light in color.
Then … the discovery of using an overhead projector incorporated into the “modern” mindset. The overhead allowed you to show on a big screen quick changes of music. We all lifted our heads “up” (to the screen) instead of “down” to the book. The sound from those in the pews was more loud. The music team is now led by a guy with an acoustic (maybe) and the piano. The organ would be used for special music. The octet is now a quarter that MUST consist of two men, and two women. One of which has to have a bushy mustache (the males that is).
Then … the use of slide projectors that had sections of songs on each slide. Fancy. This was usually brought out with an additional team which consisted of the acoustic guitar player (now plugged in to the sound board), an electric bass, drums (but a very low key set and usually off stage somewhere), piano player (which is still a main instrument – but sometimes the piano might be replaced with a keyboard). What’s an organ? The quartet is now mostly ladies, and one of the ladies might have a resemblance of a mustache of some sort. The lone male on the vocals is usually really skinny. They still like to dress the same. The songs are much more upbeat and sometimes even somewhat modern (if you call 20 years in the past modern).
Then … the use of the infamous “power point”. We are smokin’ now! This means instant back and forth of songs, low cost, cool snazzy affects (like the flying in of words, or coloring of certain words … or even … with the artistic ones … an introduction of a picture in between songs). The band is a band with an electric/acoustic leader, backed up by an electric bass, drums (on stage), keyboard and some kind of brass/orchestra instrument of some sort now and then (violin, sax, tuba, etc.) The vocalists range from a single female back up singer that has sweet pipes and incredible harmonies to a hip quintet. They no longer feel it necessary to stand in a straight line that is angled, but now are in duets throughout the platform. The songs have now shifted from the yesteryear of the hymnbooks and are now songs that include songs of Jesus, but also more about our feelings. They also tend to be in a range that the only “men” that can sing it are ones that have been castrated or have not yet hit puberty and still have that ability to sing 12 octaves up.
Then … we ditched power point because it is so ‘linear’. We now go with other programs that allow the music leader (who is usually sporting some kind of fashion trendiness) to be able to go with the flow and be led by the spirit. This allows them to completely skip over a song or add a song as ‘they are led’. This means more headache for the sound crew (and now the light crew as the stage is more geared towards performance aesthetics). The looks of the screen have changed as we can now add video in behind the words that are being sung. Usually there is a lit candle somewhere on stage. The music team? They shift – they usually sound incredible, and are in constant rotation, but often are not the same weekly. The vocals share the music leading. The songs are now pretty much just three songs, in the key of D, that usually emphasize 12 words over, and over, and over, and over, and over. The only organ that is being spoken of is that of the anatomy. The songs are still outrageously high and the windows budget is astronomical as the songs sung are constantly shattering glass somewhere). There is usually one new song that is being sung every week, some of which come from the top 20 on some local radio station. Thankfully they shy away from doing country songs (for obvious reasons … is there any real joy in country music?)
What will tomorrow hold?
All of these have had major impacts in the lives of those that gather to worship Jesus. Music is an appreciated part of the life of believers. It is also a divisive part. Each generational shift in the music has catered to the current culture that the church is wanting to reach (albeit still from the culture of yesteryear).
God values our worship of Him in any way it can happen (Music, life, prayer, etc.). But music tends to be the one thing that the whole church can do together … a community thing.
I tend to go into moods with singing at church. Sometimes I am just not in the mood because I am too busy critiquing what is going on (repetition of words, songs about feelings, and high pitch). I wonder if I would be more effective by shutting my mouth and reading the words. Regardless of my approach, God desires my worship of Him.
What do I do to allow God to outwardly see what is going on inside?
How could singing be so important to God?
How many octaves high are we supposed to reach?
Do most men actually sing in church?