Another hymn meme, and some more good thoughts on music

We care so much about music in worship – and we care because it matters.

Some good thoughts from Tim here, and the Artsy Honker here, and I am shamelessly stealing this CS Lewis quote from the latter, which I love:

“There are two musical situations on which I think we can be confident that a blessing rests. One is where a priest or an organist, himself a man of trained and delicate taste, humbly and charitably sacrifices his own (aesthetically right) desires and gives the people humbler and coarser fare than he would wish, in a belief (even, as it may be, the erroneous belief) that he can thus bring them to God.

“The other is where the stupid and unmusical layman humbly and patiently, and above all silently, listens to music which he cannot, or cannot fully, appreciate, in the belief that it somehow glorifies God, and that if it does not edify him this must be his own defect. Neither such a High Brow nor such a Low Brow can be far out of the way. To both, Church Music will have been a means of grace; not the music they have liked, but the music they have disliked. They have both offered, sacrificed, their taste in the fullest sense.

“But where the opposite situation arises, where the musician is filled with the pride of skill or the virus of emulation and looks with contempt on the unappreciative congregation, or where the unmusical, complacently entrenched in their own ignorance and conservatism, look with the restless and resentful hostility of an inferiority complex on all who would try to improve their taste – there, we may be sure, all that both offer is unblessed and the spirit that moves them is not the Holy Ghost.”

My musical thought for the day: mindless and emotive worship music is popular (in some circles) because it is a corrective to the excessive rationalism promoted (in some circles) by our culture. It might explain the apparent paradox of brilliant IT nerds enjoying near-fundamentalist churches – it brings balance to their force πŸ˜‰

Here’s the meme, again from Doug, who won’t let me escape…

1. Choose a hymn that you love to hate. It must be in a widely used and current hymn-book.
2. Say why.
3. Tag three people.

An honest answer would be ‘All Things Bright and Beautiful’ but I think that would be too easy. So a possibly controversial one:

1. Make me a channel of your peace.
2. A good prayer set to a difficult tune which is often murdered by a congregation that is unfamiliar with it. What makes it worse is that it is quite often chosen for funerals because people have been exposed to a good performance by a pop star (eg here) and the sentimental level is pushed up to 11. Blech.
3. I tag: Byron, Cranmer and Dave W.

9 thoughts on “Another hymn meme, and some more good thoughts on music

  1. Banksy – I told you about that vid last week (after seeing it at Graham’s place)!! I think it proves my point actually – it works well when done as a prayer or when sung as a single voice. I don’t think it tends to work well congregationally…

  2. Forgive me Father… I was struggling to remember where I had heard about it πŸ˜‰

    It raises lots of points, including ones we have discussed, as this is effectively leading a congregation where their response is not actually participative, as in singing.

    I am still musing on thoughts from Saturday, loads of them!


  3. Still not forgiven you for ducking out of the original Meme. I’ll be responding to this one soon, but my post on the CCM Meme has kicked off the most detailed response I’ve had on the blog. Does this say something about the importance of worship? At least people are taking it seriously.

  4. Hmmm, I’m still yet to get around to a couple of other memes you’ve tagged me for (I’ve got so many half-written posts at the moment). I’ll have a go at this once something strikes me (at the moment, I’ve got more contemporary choruses I love to hate, given the usual fare at my current congregation).

  5. ‘Bits of the liturgy I love to hate’ would be my favourite meme, I think. Whilst generally content with our Canadian BAS, I’ve got a few real stinkers as likely candidates!

    Anyway, thanks for the link!

  6. I commend we go with Tim’s ‘Bits of the liturgy I love to hate’ as a meme.
    You gonna kick the ball first, Sam?!?…

  7. I think church is boring. All the music is boring. I hate singing in general and I stay away from all religions because I don’t like either the music or the “rational” parts of it.
    Standing around talking and singing to someone invisible looks so stupid.

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