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February 22, 2008 • 9:56 am
Contemporary church music is to traditional church music as American Idol is to rock ‘n’ roll. Discuss.
Filed under: Music, American Idol, analogies, church music, rock 'n' roll
Very interesting. 🙂
I have never thought of it that way before.
We’ve had a couple of conversations on this before, and generally I agree that most contemporary church music is lacking the depth of the traditional stuff. I think it has a bit to do with the degradation of true ‘awe and wonder’ (phrases that are WAY over used in contemporary music) and songs that are to general, lacking specific Biblical references or heartfelt emotion. One of my favorite songs is ‘O Sacred Head,’ which has both of those in spades.
On the other hand, there are several good ‘contemporary’ songs that some groups sing. I was brought up on Acapella (the early stuff – through the ‘Hymns’ album), and while not all their songs (again, through the ‘Hymns’ album) are Sunday morning ready, many/most of them have solid, specific theological backing – something I find missing in many recent contemporary songs from more popular groups. But we’re comparing Bach and his culture of music to present day – not an easy, or really fair, thing to do.
Of course, I was brought up on traditional songs and, generally speaking, prefer them. But you have to admit, there are some traditional songs that, while nostalgic, don’t really need to be sung on Sunday morning. I like the tune to ‘Little Brown Church / Church in the Vale,’ but really, how is that song anything OTHER than just nostalgic?
Jeff – I hear what you are saying. I love Acapella’s early stuff, up to “Rescue” and “Hymns”. And there are some contemporary songs that are based in scripture and convey a sense of awe and wonder. My issue is with the unctuous “Jesus be thou my therapist” tunes and the ones that involve lots of humming or “oooing”. And unfortunately, those are the ones that seem to be the most popular.
Kinney – Always a pleasure.
My problem with a lot of the contemporary songs are the arrangements. The seem lacking to me. Well, I feel that way about a lot of the songs old or new over the years.
When I was younger I went to a church with a band. I played drums with the youth band and when I got older played backup guitar on Sunday service. Now I go to an Acapella and its the same arrangements. Just no guitar or drums…
I agree, I kind of like the old songs if for nothing else, the vocabulary. The new ones just seem to have too many of the same repeating phrases. (on the other hand, maybe all eras have fads –it might not quite be fair to compare the best songs of the past 300 years with what’s come out in the last 10)
Kinda hard to beat “Night on Ebon Pinion” or “How Great Thou Art.” I also love the really gospel-like stuff such as “Gloryland Way.”
I agree with Micah that a lot of songs suffer from really poor arrangements that try too hard to echo pop music. Instrumental or not, repetitive lyrics and simple arrangements are uninspiring.
Micah – You are right that current arrangements are lacking or virtually non-existent.
Andy – One of my wife’s friends calls the newer songs the “Seven-Elevens.” Sing the same seven phrases eleven times.
Kelly – Ah yes, the glory songs. Shades of Pat!
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