Monday, January 29, 2007

Contemporary vs. Traditional?

In my "regular" music listening, I tend toward older stuff, the music on which I cut my rock-n-roll teeth. You can look back in my archives and find what has been most influential for me - it's not new stuff. In fact, I decided that I was "old" when I was listening to Christian rock radio and I caught myself thinking "I can't even understand what they're saying!"

But I love a bunch of the new praise and worship music.

One of the critiques of p&w (or so-called "contemporary") music is that the lyrics are trite and over repeated, or that they portray "Jesus is my boyfriend" lyrical content. I agree that I don't like the songs with trite lyrics, but I don't think they're much worse than the songs with archaic language that nobody understands (or, better yet, makes fun of - nothing makes me laugh quite like singing "Let angels prostate fall" and don't even get me started on the "sacred thong" in that song, a song which I happen to actully like).

Here is a critique I found of "contemporary music."

"There are several reasons for opposing it: It’s too new. It’s too worldly, even
blasphemous. The new Christian music is not as pleasant as the more established
style and because there are so many new songs you can’t learn them all. It puts
too much emphasis on instrumental music rather than on godly lyrics. This new
music creates disturbances, making people act disorderly. The preceding
generation got along without it."
This wasn't written recently: it was a 1723 critique of Isaac Watts (look him up if you don't know who he was). But the problem is that the same critique gets rehashed for every generation (at my mom's Bible College, I believe the offending song was "How Great Thou Art"). It's not any more valid than me saying, "I don't like any of today's rock music. Why can't they make more music like Led Zeppelin?"

That said, it does seem like a shame to use one style to the detriment of all others. Or are we more interested in personal taste than helping others worship God?


The Sister said...

I once heard it described this way: "Old" hymns speak to the mind, p&w speaks to the heart. Sort of a thinking vs. feeling breakdown on the old Myers-Briggs personality tests. In that context, I think we need to worship with both mind and heart, so let's use them both!
(and the whole thing about the new songs being ungodly, well, I think we already answered that thought. Hee hee)

Big Mama said...

xafevxzAwwww, come on: the word is "thRong." I know you knew but it got a big cackle out of me anyway. And yes indeed, it was "How Great Thou Art" and others too numerous to mention... And we were told that anytime anyone sang "Oh Happy Day" that everyone would think of "How Dry I Am"--even though I had never thought of it until then; not mentioning that "A Mighty Fortress" (which, by the way, was in great favor) had the tune of a drinking song. And I could go on and on. I agree with Sis that both kinds are great and I do enjoy singing them all. Maybe I will do a blog on this thing: I could write a book.

Garrick said...

Senor Vinson,

What about the Statdler Bros./Johnny Casch classic "Daddy Sang Bass"? To be honest, I find more spiritualty in hearing the old hymns redone by new artists -- it's an investment, but the Johnny Cash 5 disc set has one full disc devoted to old school hymns done by the man in black. Good stuff.
ps. rasputin still says "meow"
pss. do you still have those old 45s? I found my "Superbowl Shuffle" 45s

Garrick said...

pss, I was working on a Willie Nelson spiritual album for my grandma, but got about 2/3 done before she died. Some good tunes out there.


Dana said...

I think one of the reasons the old hymns are considered "classics" is that there's been enough time to sift through the enormous pile of STUFF to separate the keepers from those that "seemed like a good idea at the time..."

There are plenty of hymns with insipid, washed-out lyrics. If you think the ones in the hymnal are old-fashioned, imagine the ones that DIDN'T make the cut! ;D