Your Suburban Church Needed a Drum Kit the Way J.S. Bach Needed a Kazoo

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John E.'s picture

Visiting other churches over the years, the better the praise band and praise team, the less the congregation sings. The style of music I love and listen to almost non-stop while I'm working is not easy for a congregation to sing. And bad praise bands and praise teams (which is the majority) offend me as someone who values aesthetics. 

I'm never sure what I'm going to get when I click on a D. Wilson article, but I'm in agreement with him on much here. 

Bert Perry's picture

He's not saying that an instrument, genre, or technique is inherently wrong, but he's backing off and simply noting that there are certain moods connected with certain forms, and that (as John notes) technical virtuousity often coexists with utter inapplicability to the needs of the Church.  Along the same lines, the work of J.S. Bach was largely ignored for hundreds of years because (as Wilson hints) it's simply not well designed for congregational singing.  He stops--perhaps due to the constraints of a blog--without really defining the purpose for music in the church.  What is writes is mostly OK with how I'd define it--to impart the Word of God to the people of God in lyric form--but for whatever reason he doesn't get there.  

One place where I part ways with Wilson (and many others) is when he conflates music with worship.  The latter, Biblically speaking, refers to "prostration" in both its Greek and Hebrew roots.  Now try to sing or play an instrument when you're face down on the ground.  Hence when Wilson quotes Hebrews 12:28 as applying to music (Greek word is "latreia", service, not worship, actually), I just can't go with him there.  I'm all for reverence and awe at various times, and I'm all for worship, but when we're talking about singing/music in the church, let's start with the example the Psalms set--sometimes quite didactic, sometimes hugely reverent and awestruck, and yet at other times (Psalms 149, 150) just plain exuberant.  

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.