Readers respond to the March issue of CT.
May 10, 2011
Notes of Praise
I loved Christianity Today's worship music package [March]. One of my greatest frustrations in churches is the near-obsessive focus on praise songs. Our church's worship team sings about one hymn per month, and accompanies it with a concession to the "older folks" in the congregation. At age 43, I have not begun to consider myself "older."
Why must relevance and hymn-singing be mutually exclusive? To exclude hymns alienates an entire class of church attendee, telling hymn-lovers, "You are not welcome here." As this group is generally older, local churches push out some of their greatest resources in terms of time, talents, and treasure.
I completely share T. David Gordon's appreciation for our rich hymn heritage ["Pop Goes the Worship," March]. The younger generation's minimal exposure to this heritage robs them of a chance to make a wise choice.
C. S. Lewis, in one of his best-known quotes, crafts an analogy that applies to their situation: "Our desires [are] not too strong, but too weak," he writes. "We are … like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased."
I enjoy many contemporary praise songs, but feel badly for those who have never waded into the salty tides for which Gordon is so passionate.
Gordon mentions the change from music as a participatory experience to a passive one. This is due, in my experience, to worship being thought of as entertainment. Also, not mentioned in CT's worship package was the volume of contemporary music, which is often unpleasant and harmful to the ears. The volume makes it difficult to sing along.
Gordon's argument reminds me of those who believe ...
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