Saturday, June 16, 2007

What do you think about worship these days?

This is a little outside of the box at TransformedDaily. However, reading a few blogs recently about the worst worship songs ever posted by Alistair Roberts, Peter Kirk, and David Ker, made me contemplate my feelings on the direction of modern worship. (By the way, I don’t necessarily agree that all of these songs should be on the worst list)

Anyway, I love to worship. In fact, I have been heavily involved on several worship teams. For the past 12 years I have played the bass for my church’s worship team, the young adults (very progressive) worship services, and for several guest artists playing/worshipping in the Phoenix metro area. While I have a heart for modern worship, I must say that it has been getting progressively harder to enter into worship vocally. True, I do not have the best voice or the largest vocal range. However, I can carry a tune and that didn’t used to get in my way. But there is something else that has been making it more difficult to fully and passionately enter into worship during a typical service. Here is what has been affecting me.

I am going to generalize, so please do not think I am talking about all artists or all of their songs.
1. The melody line of many songs is becoming very complicated. One must listen to a song several times in order to follow some of the new stuff being introduced as worship songs. I believe that many songs used for worship are actually written for radio play and not specifically for group participation/worship.
2. Questionable theology – this is becoming more and more of a concern and issue for me. What we proclaim with our voices matters. We are singing these songs to God. What are we saying to him? Are we honoring him? Are we proclaiming truth? Does it line up with the Bible? What we sing really matters. Some of the new tunes (and yes some of the older stuff too) are whacked out. The theology is just not biblical. It may sound good to the ears, but just doesn’t pass the truth meter.
3. Finally, the key that some of the new tunes are being sung in is just way too high. You have to be a first tenor or a recent vasectomy patient to sing many of the popular songs being released these days. I am a bass/baritone and I just can’t go that high. These high keys make it nearly impossible for the average guy. I think that many worship leaders lead the song in the key the original artist wrote and performed it in. That may work for Chris Tomlin or David Crowder, but the average Joe (or Eric in my case) just can’t make it happen at those frequencies.

I’m not an “old fogy”. Notice I didn’t say anything about volume or style. In fact, I like it loud and enjoy virtually every style of music.

Anyway, I hope you don’t hear what I am not saying. I am not saying that all modern and progressive worhip is bad. I am not trying to paint it all with this same brush. However, I am saying that just because something is popular on Christian radio doesn’t mean that it should be used in the worship service. I implore worship leaders to examine a songs theology, ease of singing the melody, and the range (key) of the song before adding it to your worship set list next weekend. Thanks for listening and worship on: in Spirit and Truth.


BMorgan said...

Eric, I do see what you are saying (for the larger congregation). But I will have to admit that in being a musician I am more moved spiritually by the music (not the vocals). So the more complex arrangements do move me and help me to "enter in" to worship. But don't get me wrong, I do also value the vocal melodies and this is probably more important for the "larger congregation."

Hey, I would like to know what worship songs you think are off theologically??

Tom said...

Granted the Bible does say "sing a new song" so in that, we need to find a balance, with new songs and golden oldies.

I agree, some of the music on the radio are not ministering, nor are they meant for a church service.

Worship is us 'talking' to God, showing our adoration and thankfulness that He delivered us from darkness and bondage.

Theologically, any song can be argued wrong if it isn't a direct quote from the Bible, but if it isn't blatant misquote, or misleading, not an issue per se.

As for complexity, well doing things skillfully is something that needs to be done.

But I agree, some songs are way too complex and hard to learn/remember. There has to be a balance. Having a song more than 3 cords isn't sin.

The old campfire songs are good, but like in natural life, we move on from Sunday School songs to something more complex.

Then again, which songs are sanctioned? We can say the old Maranatha songs out of the 80's are good worship - they are, but that's the 80's. Someone older can say "hey what about the 70's worship" and so on, then what about those 17th century ones?

So it all boils down to being led by the Spirit.

And I don't think the Holy Spirit is stuck in a time warp.