What sort of church music do you want?

I have no problem whatsoever understanding why my musical tastes aren’t universal.

I like John Cage, Dire Straits and Igor Stravinsky. This is a heady combination best approached with care and if possible while slightly under the influence.

However my tastes in church music, or should I say music used in collective worship within church, are more narrowed. It’s not that I exclude a large swathe of church music, but that church music itself seems to be quite a narrow field. Consequently my eclectic church music tastes appear somewhat restrictive if compared to the rest of my musical sensibilities.

I have just finished listening properly to a new worship song which has been recommended to me. The CD track is great, with enthusiastic support from the congregation (/audience) and accomplished music from gifted musicians. However, I do not recognise the relevance of this song or this musical style to my own church.

Last week I moved from the piano in church to the guitar for part of the service. During Holy Communion the drummer and I moved to less instrusive instruements, we turned the microphones off and we jammed in the name and spirit of our Lord God.

OK, so our music was inaccessible to the deaf memebrs of the congregation using the Hearing Aid loop. We didn’t take into account the desire of some people to sing along and others not to. We blatantly enjoyed ourselves playing laid back music in praise of our God. We explored our musicality gently and effectively through the simple process of actually doing it.

It’s not a criticism of other things that are out there, but I think the reason I found it personally so fulfilling is very simple. Rather than listening to a CD of someone else making the music and trying to adapt that to our circumstances, we took someone else’s material and totally claimed it for our own. We sang in canon, we reworked the underlying rhythmic hook, and we had a damned good time doing so.

Do I want up to date music, or traditional music, or modern music, or Mission Praise music? This is a pointless question. I seek music from the heart and soul of the musicians, and if I can’t get it I respectfully request we sit in silence for a time.

Is this harsh? Probably so, but I’m not sure that I’m entirely wrong. Maybe you would consider this stream-of-consciousness rant when you ask the same questions of yourself and your own situation.

And if the heart and soul of your church musicians aren’t quite what you’re used to listening to in church? Compare it to the wide wide range of stuff out in the rest of the world, and see if you can find a niche for it there.

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