Listen to This!

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Bert Perry's picture

How did the congregation sing?  When I've led music--hymns or modern--it was striking how few of the congregation would sing.  It was generally worse when it was something newer, but there were a lot of "camp meeting songs" and such that the guys hated, too.  Perhaps an even better question would be "are the men singing?".  Most women will sing to be polite, but men just kinda fidget and hope it goes away soon, and then a lot of them show up as empty seats/pews.  

This is related to the question of whether the congregation can hear themselves--turning it up to 11 is for English heavy metal bands, not church.  There is a huge point to the question of whether the music communicates the Word of God to the hearts of the people of God.  This is also related to his call for deep theology in music--if there's nothing to chew on, again, that's going to be hard to take, especially for the men, being less emotive.  

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

G. N. Barkman's picture

I am thankful to be able to report that our congregation sings.  In fact, someone not singing is so rare that when it happens, that's what we are likely to notice.  It's not uncommon in our weekly staff meetings to say something like this, "I noticed that so and so had a visitor with him Sunday, and he did not sing."  But it's just as common to say, "So and so had a visitor with her Sunday, and she sang heartily."  That tells us a lot about a person's spiritual condition.  If they don't sing, and don't show interest in the sermon, you know they probably won't be back.  If they don't sing, but listen to the sermon with interest, they usually come back.  If they come long enough, they almost always begin singing.

G. N. Barkman

Bert Perry's picture

GN, I sang good hymns heartily for years before I was saved, I've watched Godly men refuse to sing some songs (especially camp meeting and "Jesus is my boyfriend" songs), and I've watched men do business with God instead of singing hymns.  So I think it's really dangerous to assume that if a man is singing, his heart is right with God.   Contemplate as well how many drug-addled folk and bluegrass musicians can belt out a wonderful version of "Amazing Grace", and then they and their audiences go home to do some of the most depraved things.

Singing indicates enthusiasm for what is going on, but is an extremely weak gauge of spiritual condition.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Ron Bean's picture

Jim Peet has posted this before. It is my understanding that these recordings are of the congregation at Capitol Hill Baptist Church. Maybe those of us who have churches where people don't sing (I'm not one) could learn some things from Dever.

http://www.capitolhillbaptist.org/resources/music/

"Some things are of that nature as to make one's fancy chuckle, while his heart doth ache." John Bunyan

Ron Bean's picture

One thing that probably contributes to the hymn singing at CHBC is that they sing A LOT! They usually sing 3-4 hymns before each service and wind up singing 8-9 per service. Their hymn repertoire is of a size to breed familiarity with the congregation. Their congregation has a large number of 20-30 year olds and a sizeable number who didn't grow up with traditional hymnody. 

"Some things are of that nature as to make one's fancy chuckle, while his heart doth ache." John Bunyan

Jay's picture

I don't know if there are any CDs of CHBC signing, but I'd sign up for them in a heartbeat.  

I'd also commend to any of you the T4G Conference CD's - T4G Conference 1, T4G Conference 2, T4G Conference 3.   I like them so much I donated my copies to the church library and listen via Spotify.  There's nothing like 5,000-6,000 men singing solid and theologically rich music to praise our great God and fix my focus whenever I need it.

 

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

G. N. Barkman's picture

I agree with Bert that some unconverted people sing heartily in church.  They love music, and love to sing.  Any element of public worship can be enjoyed by unbelievers at some level. 

However, a more careful reading of my post reveals it is the lack of singing that raises concern, and serves as an indicator of a person's spiritual condition.  How can it be otherwise?  The Bible states in Ephesians 5:18,19 and Colossians 3:16 that singing is an important part of Christian activity.  It is a response to the controlling power of the indwelling Holy Spirit.  It is a response to the effect of God's Word upon the soul.  It is an act of worship to God.  It is an act of exhorting one another.  To refuse to sing is a sign of spiritual deficiency.  It may indicate the absence of regeneration.  It certainly indicates some area of spiritual need.

G. N. Barkman

G. N. Barkman's picture

I agree with Bert that some unconverted people sing heartily in church.  They love music, and love to sing.  Any element of public worship can be enjoyed by unbelievers at some level. 

However, a more careful reading of my post reveals it is the lack of singing that raises concern, and serves as an indicator of a person's spiritual condition.  How can it be otherwise?  The Bible states in Ephesians 5:18,19 and Colossians 3:16 that singing is an important part of Christian activity.  It is a response to the controlling power of the indwelling Holy Spirit.  It is a response to the effect of God's Word upon the soul.  It is an act of worship to God.  It is an act of exhorting one another.  To refuse to sing is a sign of spiritual deficiency.  It may indicate the absence of regeneration.  It certainly indicates some area of spiritual need.

G. N. Barkman

Ron Bean's picture

I appreciate Dr. Bauder and his balanced voice in the tumult. I was curious as to what the "major point" was with which he disagrees. I've listened to the discussion twice and can't find it.

"Some things are of that nature as to make one's fancy chuckle, while his heart doth ache." John Bunyan

Bert Perry's picture

GN, I think the basic deal is that I simply can't get past the fact that all too often, these "inevitable signs" of spiritual growth simply become a means by which the pastor can bludgeon the congregation into conformity for a time.  We're commanded to sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, yes, but that still leaves the questions of (a) do the songs in church qualify, (b) is it referring to church congregational singing or individual singing at other times, (c) are there exceptions for people in extraordinary circumstances (e.g. the bereaved, etc..), and the like.

And it's worth noting that being "filled with the Spirit", per Ephesians 5:18-19, does not necessarily equate to singing, no?  Maybe you were referring to another passage?

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

dgszweda's picture

Ron Bean wrote:

Jim Peet has posted this before. It is my understanding that these recordings are of the congregation at Capitol Hill Baptist Church. Maybe those of us who have churches where people don't sing (I'm not one) could learn some things from Dever.

http://www.capitolhillbaptist.org/resources/music/

Capitol Hill's service structure and signing is very similiar the structure and signing at my church.  It is also very much like many Reformed Baptist Church's that I have visited.  Liturgical structure, much Scripture reading and prayer in service, singing of theologically rich songs that are both modern and historical, and expository preaching.  Most of the time they are 2+ hours in length and attract a lot of young people and families.  Singing is typically robust.

G. N. Barkman's picture

Bert,

Actually, being filled with the spirit does equate to singing.  Please examine Ephesians 5:18,19 more carefully. 

We will never reform Fundamentalism until the ones endeavoring to do the reforming have a better grasp of, and commitment to Scripture.  Simply reacting against unfortunate experiences is not sufficient to produce healthy churches.

G. N. Barkman

Larry Nelson's picture

G. N. Barkman wrote:

However, a more careful reading of my post reveals it is the lack of singing that raises concern, and serves as an indicator of a person's spiritual condition.  How can it be otherwise?  The Bible states in Ephesians 5:18,19 and Colossians 3:16 that singing is an important part of Christian activity.  It is a response to the controlling power of the indwelling Holy Spirit.  It is a response to the effect of God's Word upon the soul.  It is an act of worship to God.  It is an act of exhorting one another.  To refuse to sing is a sign of spiritual deficiency.  It may indicate the absence of regeneration.  It certainly indicates some area of spiritual need.

Being at a church that offers both traditional and contemporary services, I may see this occur on a Sunday:

At a traditional service, John Newton's Amazing Grace  is sung: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3G72NucLEGM . The congregation is well versed in this timeless, classic hymn.  They sing heartily.  Few are observed to not be participating.

At a contemporary service, Phil Wickham's This is Amazing Grace  is sung: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rjXjkbODrro .  The congregation may include many who are not yet familiar with this modern song, but who catch on quickly.  (The lyrics are projected on twin 14' x 7' side screens.)  They sing heartily.  Moreover, the volume level of their collective voices exceeds the volume level of the congregation's singing in our traditional services.  Few are observed to not be participating.

Based on the bolded section of the quotation above, can I conclude that the attendees of the contemporary service are at least  as spiritually-minded and/or spiritually mature as the attendees of the traditional service?  Or is robust, hearty singing in contemporary services subject to a double standard?