An Examination of Sovereign Grace Ministries and Getty-Townend For Use in Fundamental Christian Churches (Part 3)

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Seth Johnson's picture

My silence to Part 1&2 of the series was intentional.  To reply with my paltry understanding of music theory, the circle of fifths and either's implication on ancient and modern hymnody would have brought no help to the conversation. 

What might I have said regarding Ron Hamilton that would not be simply opinion? 

I could have said that there are songs I like and those I don't.  I could have said that I've yet to hear a congregation sing "Young David was a Shepherd" in the morning worship.  I could have said that I personally think "Jonah" feels like a tune one would hear on a merry-go-round.  I could have said that it is cumbersome to our congregation to use Praises 1 & 2 because of the page structure.  I could have said it appears a disproportionately high number of songs in the majesty hymnal were written by Ron Hamilton.

To what end could I have added those thoughts,   Are they not certain to appear foolish and petty?  Of course! Not one of those opinions is germane to my question.  Not one of those issues has stopped our fellowship from using music from and singing songs from Ron Hamilton and his ministry.  Ron has written some beautiful music and blessed the church over the years. 

Silence in the discussion regarding an evaluation of his music stems from finding no fault in his music. Silence regarding his ecclesiastical associations protects me from answering a matter before hearing it.  (a matter too deep to allocate time in my schedule)

I asked only of what I see and don't understand.  To reach beyond my question is to infer questions that I have not asked, and those to which I do not seek answers.  

 

 

Larry's picture

Moderator

The receptivity of a critique is that it first runs through a grid of self reflection.  A sermon on the biblical view of anger is lost if the pastor has a well known 'short fuse'.  In argumentation credibility is diminished when the "logs" are not removed before the specks.

A word of caution -- A legitimate critique is legitimate even if something else is not legitimately critiqued. Credibility may be diminished, as well as receptivity, but that probably says more about the hearer than the critique. Remember, the problem with the log and the speck was not that the judgment was wrong, but that it was hypocritical; it wasn't that the speck wasn't there, but that a log was. So here, if Y's critique of X music is correct, it doesn't matter if Y hasn't also critiqued Z music. The critique itself should be debated, and that has what has happened until just recently in this thread.

So regardless of one's position, "You did it too" is not a valid response to valid criticism.

DavidO's picture

Larry,

I agree with you more or less, but I'd nuance what you say.  I think it is legitimate to respond to valid criticism by pointing out a glaring point of omission.  It is not valid to use that omission as a defense against or invalidation of the criticism itself.  And I don't think that latter is what anyone here suggests. 

Seth Johnson's picture

Larry,

Why is it necessary to caution an agreement?  I did not invalidate the legitimacy of Part 1,2 or 3's argument.  If credibility "may be diminished," and if the the debate includes what impression is given from a visual appearance [Part 3..."Both groups tend to perform their music in a pop vocal style, with a more casual stage presence – often dressed in jeans and un-tucked shirts, with men (and sometimes ladies) wearing hats or caps (though the SGM team tends to look more sloppy on-stage, with many of their men sporting t-shirts and tousled hair). The overall effect is that worship is a “come-as-you-are” event] then why caution me for asking a specific question? 
 

We are the point in the article where the authors are prosing specific actions to be taken based on a principle to be applied from their explanation of Scripture.  I understand their explanation of scripture and the principle to be applied and this is a specific application for which I have not found an answer. 

Again then Larry, why then when I ask for help am I cautioned? 

 

 

 

Pastor Joe Roof's picture

These articles rely heavily on the association arguments and I would like to point out that Sovereign Grace and Getty Music are now heavily associated with conservative Bible-believing churches across the Country and the world and they are heavily associated with fundamental Bible-believing churches.  Bob Jones University has used Sovereign Grace and Getty music in their recordings.  Steve Pettit and and other fundamental Baptists have also use the music in their recordings.  Two of the most recent hymnals produced by fundamentalists include hymns from the Getty and Sovereign Grace.  So, this music is no longer just associated with Charismatic worship.  It is an integral part of fundamentalist worship.  Most fundamentalist colleges use these hymns as well.  Most graduates from the fundamentalist colleges are singing these hymns. 

 

There are always going to be people offended with any music you choose in a church. 

- I was once told that our conservative music in our church is more like the Roman Catholic Church this person was saved from.  They were offended by our association.

- A young lady sang a Bob Jones/Sound Forth Song a few years ago at a conference I was leading and I received a letter accusing me of allowing the music of the bars in the conference.  I still can't figure that one out.

- I was once told we were wicked because our church sang the Christmas hymns.

- I could go on

 

The standard has to come from God's Word

Does the song exalt God?

Does the song enable the people of God to exalt God and teach and admonish Scripture to one another?

 

If a song can accomplish those purposes, it is going to accomplish God's purposes, not fleshly purposes.

 

Fundamental churches have been blessed to receive many of these new modern hymns.  I remember introducing a church body to "Before The Throne of God Above" (SGM) for the first time.  I remember the sense of being moved by truth that was so clear in the room.  Some were even moved to tears.  This is not charismatic worship, friends.  This is freshness that can break the deadness that is in too many churches.

 

I appreciate the articles with one concern that these men realize there are many of us out there who hate the wickedness of our flesh as much as they say they do but still sing modern hymns.

 

Larry's picture

Moderator

Why is it necessary to caution an agreement?

I am not sure you agree or not.

You said, "I am unable to reconcile to ideas and proposals of association from the article writers with the application of Patch the Pirate in their circle of ministry. ... Let the pirate precede the rapper."

This sounds a lot like "Until you critique the pirate, I won't listen to the critique of the rapper."

So I was urging caution about to way to evaluate an argument. If you agree with me, then fine.

Seth Johnson's picture

Larry,

Why did you feel it necessary to caution me in the first place?  Was I not clear that I would like help with the pirate question?  As yet no help has been offered, only caution and Socratic redirection.  If a listener declares that they do not understand something and asks for help why not help them? 

Debate points may be won by redirecting unwanted questions with answers to unasked questions.  I am not trying to win a debate, just trying to seek help with my question. 

Let the pirate precede the rapper or let the pirate stand alone.   Either way have you no help with the pirate question? 

 

 

Larry's picture

Moderator

Seth,

I wasn't assuming anything and I wasn't trying to redirect anything. You made a statement that sounded as if you were rejecting an argument (an answer to a question) because it didn't answer the question you wanted answered. It sounded like you were redirecting, implying that this article has no credibility because it didn't address pirates. If you weren't doing that, then fine (as I already said).

I have no desire to win debate points, or even to debate. (I don't believe I have said anything until now.) We settled this question long ago with what I believe are solid biblical principles. I have no desire to persuade others to agree with me here or to do what we do. Everyone needs to settle this for their own local body.

Perhaps someone will help you with the question about Ron Hamilton, though personally, I think pirates are pretty low on the list of concerns there.

DBachorik's picture

 

Quote:

Here are two reasons why I used the descriptor non-serious about this phrase "are carnally looking for any excuse to feed the sinful flesh with rock music."

1) First, it sounds good and but is (pardon me because I know you hate this) something I have heard since the 70's but never proven. The reality is this Doug: you have not managed to make any connection between rock music and feeding the flesh. You say that as if we should just take it at face value that rock music feeds the flesh. We are past that; people are not going to accept such an unproven statement.

Greg, thanks for your clarifications. A couple points - I had no intention, when writing this article, to explain my views on rock as a style or genre - please footnote #8 in the original. I will try to make clear in the promised follow-up article how I believe music functions and how I see the musical sound of rock music as largely incompatible with the sanctified life a believer is called to.

Quote:

2) Secondly, I find it very dubious that people anywhere come to church to get their fix on rock music. It makes no sense to me. You may have data to support that idea but I strongly doubt it. In an age where they can listen to professional music 24x7, why would they decide they are going to influence their church towards rock music so they can feed their flesh, especially when said music is likely to be performed very unprofessionally? I don't take that very seriously unless you have some data I am missing.

I couldn't agree with you more here. I make no claim that people use church as a means of getting 'their fix on rock music.' What I mean is that when we, as born again people, enjoy and allow something in our lives that may actually be harmful or inappropriate, we find ways to justify it to ourselves. A personal example - my wife and I enjoyed watching Seinfeld for several months, some years back (when we still lived in the states). Although I am no expert on the art of television, I felt the shows were well-crafted and the humor creative and hilarious. I still do. Unfortunately, there were several other aspects to the show that we came to believe were unhealthy for us spiritually - the frequent making light of sin, the use of the Lord's name in vain, etc. We didn't stop watching immediately - I kept justifying our viewing because of the former qualities mentioned. However, we did come to a point where we let ourselves 'realize' the good qualities of the show did not negate the negative. In reality, we already knew that, but it took me longer to align my actions with the truth. If the musical sound of rock does what I suggested above, then it is probable that some believers would look for ways to justify their enjoyment of what is an admittedly attractive style. I am not sure if this makes the original sentence more 'serious', but this is some of my reasoning behind it.

 

________

Edited for formatting purposes only

Director of music studies, Bob Jones Memorial Bible College

PhD candidate, Durham University

DBachorik's picture

Quote:

 

Not true.  The stated targets at the beginning of the article are SGM and GTM.  Your purpose is to decided whether or not they should be used in church ministry or not.  Your (rather predictable) conclusions are that they should not (or, in the case of GTM, not now...if ever).   

Andrew, I am sorry that you cannot accept, at face value, my assertion. I can only say that our goal really is "biblically grounded decisions about music." As I have explained in another posting, we had no ulterior motives. We have been as forthright as we know how and I can say, in all honesty before the Lord, that we approached SGM/GTM only in the spirit of I Thess. 5.20-22.

Regarding my "(rather predictable) conclusions," I am at a loss to know why you would feel this way, since we, to my knowledge, have never met or had any kind of conversation about such matters, and you have not sat in on my Theology of Music classes here in Manila :). Surely my conclusions are not predictable to you because you may have cause to disagree.

Quote:

A few thoughts about associations: I live and work in an overwhelmingly Catholic culture.  This Christmas we sang "Silent Night".  I told our folks it was written by a priest.  I quote G.K. Chesterton...and tell them who he was.  We sing "A Mighty Fortress Is Our God", and I make a point of telling folks it was written by Martin Luther (not Catholic, I know, but also not Baptist).  I also teach about common grace, and the fact that sometimes people who are wrong on some things can get other things very right.  And we should study our Bibles...alot...to be able to figure out what is wrong and what is right.

 

And you know what?  Our folks get it.  Even the new converts.  It's not that hard a concept.  

I could not agree with you more on the previous paragraph. That is why Weberg and I tried to make very clear that dealing with associations must, ultimately, happen in a local church context. I applaud you and only wish that all fundamental pastors and missionaries were so careful in their discipleship.

 

______________________

Edited for formatting purposes only

Director of music studies, Bob Jones Memorial Bible College

PhD candidate, Durham University

DBachorik's picture

DavidO wrote:

Larry,

I agree with you more or less, but I'd nuance what you say.  I think it is legitimate to respond to valid criticism by pointing out a glaring point of omission.  It is not valid to use that omission as a defense against or invalidation of the criticism itself.  And I don't think that latter is what anyone here suggests. 

Friends, Weberg and I are not omitting or avoiding anything by not discussing Ron Hamilton/Patch the Pirate in the posted article. As I have tried to make clear, the article was written in response to numerous questions we have received in our respective ministries specifically about SGM/GTM. I don't believe either of us has received any such requests regarding RH. I have certainly considered such things for the ministries I am responsible for and have not come to the conclusion that associational issues in the use of Ron Hamilton's music hinders the edification of the saints with whom I fellowship and worship.

Please do not read that last paragraph as a blanket endorsement of all the music produced by Hamilton in general, or for all worship and ministry situations. I was not being disingenuous when I suggested that someone submit, in a written form, a similar examination of Ron Hamilton. Examination is healthy, or (hopefully) health producing.

Director of music studies, Bob Jones Memorial Bible College

PhD candidate, Durham University

Shaynus's picture

Nor, from a theological standpoint, does the fact that these writers are Reformed pose any significant danger.

I must admit I literally laughed out loud when I read this quote from the article. Really? Martin Luther was reformed, and he wrote "A Mighty Fortress." What possible connection of a dangerous theology in hymn writing could there be with being reformed? Zero. I know the authors probably intended to cut off critics of the SGM music because it's authors are in some way reformed, but the statement belies a huge part of the argumentative problem throughout the article. If we're going to do the association dance, and some people are put off by those who are reformed, then at some point they're going to have to get rid of cherished hymns of the faith. If we want to keep all kinds of hymns that are GOOD TEXTS, why not treat every hymn and song on it's merits? I happen to be a fan of Indellible Grace, a group that tries to rewrite hymn tunes for old hymns. Probably less than 10% of their tunes will stand the test of time. I for one am willing to wait a hundred years or so to see the gold and let the dross be removed. This includes Third Day dross and Third Day gold (King of Glory, yes Steve I agree); Ron Hamilton dross ("I want to marry daddy when I grow up" Really??? Wink and Ron Hamilton gold. It also frankly includes several SGM songs that just will not stand the test of time, and some that will. I wonder if we shouldn't just use the method of weeding out bad songs that has taken place for the thousands of years of the churches history. Bad songs eventually die. Good songs live. Nobody cares what the associations of St. Francis of Assisi were, or if he even were a truly converted Christian in the monasteries of the middle ages. What we know is the lyrics of "All Creatures of Our God and King" and that it's a wonderful historic hymn. 

Shaynus's picture

Oh and a sort of unrelated point about lyrics. Let's be not more snooty about lyrics and theology than God was in the Psalms. When I was in high school I went on the Bob Jones Academy mission trip to NYC. At night, one student was playing on his guitar and singing a sort of "edgy" song for BJU at the time. A senior teacher tried to correct the student on the error of his song in what we would hope would be the best avenue: the lyrics. The teacher asked the student if the lyrics weren't a little wishy washy and not theologically upstanding. The student replied "That's Psalm 40 (or whatever Psalm it was) almost word for word. Take your argument up with God." The teacher shut his mouth immediately and his face became red with embarrassment that he didn't know his Bible well enough to recognize a Psalm when he saw one. So I would say when picking the good and the bad and the ugly of song lyrics for your church, look at the range of emotion and content of the Psalms. You'll find a wide breadth of subject matter is fair game. Let's apply a similar standard to modern hymns.

DavidO's picture

DBachorik wrote:
Friends, Weberg and I are not omitting or avoiding anything . . .

My point is not that you should have expanded the scope of this article, but rather that "the movement" consider examining all the music they use (much of which seems to have been sort of "grandfathered in") with the same vigor they scrutinize stuff from the outside.

DBachorik's picture

[also posted at the end of Part 2 postings]

Dear friends,
I had promised to write up a formal reply to some of the issues in the previous postings here, but as I have again looked over the many issues, I realized a couple things:

     1. Many of the issues are addressed, at a ‘popular’ or ‘laymen’s’ level in NEW HEART, NEW SPIRIT, NEW SONG. I realize it is rather self-serving to promote my own book, but it was published to speak to some of the questions raised in the postings. Also, the Examination article was written with the information from the book as a part of its foundation and presuppositions.
     2. Some of the issues raised are really too complicated to deal with adequately in NHNSNS, much less in a series of blog postings.

Therefore, I respectfully ask any readers who may disagree with all or some aspects of the Examination article to look at the book and so be sure of what was meant, as well as to get a fuller context for the article.

Having deferred the discussion in this no doubt aggravating way, I will take some space here to highlight what I perceived as the dominant themes or problems of the posted responses to Part 2.
     1. Reductionist understanding of music as a medium or mode of communication
     2. Misunderstanding about the need to analyze musical sound
     3. An idea that association is a complete non-issue
     4. A misperception that the authors are against anything new or different

Without wishing to start a whole new discussion, which I would not have time to participate in, due to the start of classes at my college next week, I will risk making a few comments about each of the above. Defense of some of the comments can be found in NHNSNS; for some I hope to find further defense in the research I will be doing as part of my PhD work.

1. In the Scriptures, musical sound is frequently represented as communicating emotions or even facts. By communication I mean an activity in which at least one of the following happens:

  • information, sense, or emotions are portrayed, imparted, or conveyed via a medium
  • information, sense, or emotions are perceived in the medium used
  • engendering of emotion or thought via a medium occurs
  • a medium causes or is involved in any voluntary or involuntary physical/neurological response

At present I am working on a book that fleshes out a New Testament musicology on the nature of music, especially with regard to communication. In that work I hope to give as complete and nuanced a picture as I can of the topic. In the mean time, I can give the reader a summarization of how musical sound and an audience (as opposed to a performer) interact:

 

  • musical sound (all aspects/elements of music, the performing space/acoustic, and anything else outside of the receiver/listener) exists in time;

 

  • a receiver/listener experiences musical sound in a variety of ways, or through many ‘filters’, simultaneously;
  • some of the ‘filters’ are idiosyncratic (how the listener feels at the moment, his personal taste, his past experience with the particular piece or style, etc.);
  • some of the ‘filters’ are shared by a large part of a listener’s community, society, or culture (educational background, dominant music types in the society, age, gender, etc.);
  • some of the ‘filters’ are common to all people at all times and in all places (being a human, made in the image of God, fallen, having a physical body, etc.) Please see a brief discussion and report on research regarding a ‘universal’ emotion responses to music here.

All of these ‘filters’ are functioning when a person hears music, although they do not all necessarily function in the same way or to the same degree. Which leads me to drop in here some food for thought, from some correspondence with a colleague (I do this at the risk of alienating some readers – please feel free to skip the next section if you are not interested in a more academic discussion!):

Here is a summary of what I am seeing right now:

 

Romans 15.9 - singing is contextually synonymous with glorifying, confessing, giving thanks, rejoicing praising, lauding, and trusting, all of which include the idea of communication
I Corinthians 13.1 - a simile in which non-communicative sound is compared to non-communicative speech, which would imply that there is communicative musical sound
I Corinthians 14.7-8, 15, 26 - musical sound functions similarly to speech sound; communication is possible; communication can be impeded

I Cor. 15.52, I Thess. 4.16, Heb. 12.19, Matt. 6.2, Matt. 24.31, Rev. 8.2, 6-8, 10, 12-13, 9.1, 13-14 (9.14 implies the musical sound acted as a release or a more direct form of communication) - musical sound used as a signal (iconic use of specific musical sounds)

 

Ephesians 5.19, Colossians 3.16 - conveyance of text; implication of an enhancement of communication because of the inclusion of musical sound

Hebrews 2.12, James 5.13, Acts 16.23 - similar to Eph. 5.19 and Col. 3.16 - conveyance of texts expressing praise to the Lord, enhanced by musical sound

 

Matt. 9.23 - musical sound expressing sorrow ('noise' - an implication as to the type of musical sound produced)

Matt. 11.17 (Luke 7.32) - implication of different musical sounds evoking specific emotional and physical responses

 

Luke 15.25 - implication that the musical sound was enough to indicate the nature of an activity

Rev. 5.9, 15.2-3 - 'saying' with singing, implying that communication took place via the combined media of text and musical sound

 

None of this is very profound. I have been digging into the implications of the I Corinthian passages (see the rough draft chapters), and have spent much time also with a startling example of musical communication in Exodus 32. There, we have a scenario in which musical sound has radically changed (note Joshua's lack of recognition of the sound, although he had certainly been a part of Hebrew music-making before this moment - Red Sea, song of Moses, etc.), in response to a radical change of theology (from Yahweh to the golden calf), which is further complicated by the fact that the Hebrews seemed to re-imagine Yahweh in the image of the golden calf (note Aaron's statement about a feast to the LORD), rather than fully turn from Yahweh. It appears that the lyrics sung around the calf, with musical sound and singing style quite different from how the Hebrews sang in praise of Yahweh before this event, were actually similar to what they had sung previously. Hâlelyâhh (hallelujah) has changed in its meaning, and the music at the very least reflects that change. It may be, due to the implications of Col. 3.16, that the musical change helped impart the theological shift.

Further theological questions come to mind: within the broad spectrum of Christianity, how could groups representing extremely different theological landscapes sing common texts (both biblical and hymnic) and yet reinforce their own meaning of those texts? Perhaps the distinctive musical settings are a part of the conveyance of theological meaning. Coming at these ideas from the opposite end, are there any implications stemming from the fact that in many cultures significant segments of disparate religious groups seem to be drawn towards a religious gravitational center based on an experiential, mystical, or Charismatic theology of worship, the expression of which shares very similar musical styles?

 

How does this happen? What are the affects of combining differing modes of communication? In an effort to get a handle on this I spent some time in the writings of Lakoff and Johnson and began to imagine text creating image schemata (or drawing upon pre-existing, mind-embedded schemata), while musical sound was simultaneously do the same thing. What happens when these two (at least two, probably many more!) schemata are interacting in the human mind? How would the reception of one or both media be impacted by such an interplay, of which the listener or performer is likely unaware? Does the mind receive the text and its musical setting as two separate entities? Not likely, from the New Testament implications, as well as personal experience and observation. If there is cross-modal impact, is the impact equal between to the two media? If not, which medium has the stronger influence on the partner medium, and is thus less influenced by that partner?

Admittedly, I am no expert in Lakoff and Johnson's ideas, but I have found them to be unsatisfactory in trying to disentangle the issues above. Nearly all of the articles I have read that apply their ideas of image schemata to music seem to be descriptive or speculative. Is it possible to empirically establish specific schemata to specific music sounds? Perhaps, but I have yet to see research that does this convincingly. However, L and J's inclusion of neurological and physiological research point the way to one avenue of exploration: comparing neuro-physiological response to text only, music only, and text-music combinations could help. Comparing the same from participants from two or three radically different musical-cultural backgrounds could help establish how much of the interaction is culturally situated.

 

It would seem that to better understand the impact of multi-modal communication would give insight into the theological questions above. It might also help in exploring connections between seemingly disparate world-views or theologies (if two completely unconnected cultures share similar musical expressions/styles might that indicate similarity of worldview, although the sung texts might express great differences?). What about the producer? Are the interactions between modes in the mind of a receiver (audience) the same as in the mind of the performer?

Of course, behind all these questions are implications from empirical research into music and emotions, semiotics, philosophies of aesthetics, reception theory, linguistics, etc. At the very heart of it must be some kind of over-arching concept of human-music interaction. I have been hammering away at such a model for some time - a model that reflects the various 'filters' that impact human reception, calibrated to show the differing strengths of the filters; I am also trying to represent every aspect of musical sound - the music as it is - calibrate for the importance of each aspect on the innate, integral, or bioacoustic 'meaning' of a musical entity.

 

2. If musical sound is a mode of communication, then it is possible and important to not only try to understand what any particular piece of music is communicating (apart from the text), but how such communication happens. Thus, we have to delve into the ‘nuts and bolts’ of notes (horizontal and vertical), time and rhythm, timbre, form, performance, etc., in the same way a person might explore auto mechanics to find out how his car works (or why it doesn’t!). If we are not willing to do this, the conversation may be forever trapped in an “It doesn’t make me feel that way!” subjectivity, where the only musical compass is the individual.

3. Notably, musical and historical examples were sometimes cited inaccurately, with little or no context, in criticism of our inclusion of association as a criterion for determining whether or not a body of music should be used in fundamental Christian churches. For several bloggers, the very idea that a problematic association might preclude the use anything was foolish, ignorant, or unenlightened. To mention how a church in the past might have avoided the use of the piano or organ (or cello, for that matter), as if nothing could be more ridiculous, without actually looking into the context of the culture at the time (one of the ‘filters’ mentioned above), makes one wonder if the critic takes the doctrine of the weaker brother into consideration at all in any area of life. For Weberg and me to comment on and consider in our examination a contemporary association issue does not imply that we do not recognize that such considerations change with time and circumstance.

4. Neither Pastor Weberg nor I are in any way Hutterites or reactionaries when it comes to music or ministry.

All readers of the Examination article and responses have my sincerest wish and pray for a blessed new year of growing love for and service to our precious Saviour.

Director of music studies, Bob Jones Memorial Bible College

PhD candidate, Durham University

Shaynus's picture

2. If musical sound is a mode of communication, then it is possible and important to not only try to understand what any particular piece of music is communicating (apart from the text), but how such communication happens. Thus, we have to delve into the ‘nuts and bolts’ of notes (horizontal and vertical), time and rhythm, timbre, form, performance, etc., in the same way a person might explore auto mechanics to find out how his car works (or why it doesn’t!). If we are not willing to do this, the conversation may be forever trapped in an “It doesn’t make me feel that way!” subjectivity, where the only musical compass is the individual.

With respect, I think this is the central problem. Is music art or science? Kinda both, but, it effects people's emotions in ways that aren't comparable to mechanics at all. One man's musical meat is another man's poison, so to come at how music effects the emotions scientifically only works if everyone's emotions and tastes are the same. Physics works as a science because the laws are always the same no matter where in the universe, and that's great, but music isn't like that. The technocrats of music like yourself may not be able to see clearly the layman's perspective on this precisely because you think in technical terms of measures, beats and the harmful effects of dotted eighth note delays. Subjectivity of standards is more difficult than the cut and dry standards you put forward. But subjectivity doesn't mean anything goes, but it may mean what goes for this person may not go for that.

JohnBrian's picture

I came across an article titled:

Music, the Senses and Emotion by Paul Helm

in which he responds to an article by Iain Murray.

In 1 of the sections he speaks to the issue of emotion in worship and writes:

Emotion is a good word, though sometimes its use [is] narrowed to refer exclusively to what is violent and disruptive. Sometimes it is utterly appropriate to be scared, or joyous, or exultant. And there are also calm emotions, as David Hume reminded us. It is possible to be calmly impassioned. If our response in worship is emotional in such good senses, then it will contain two elements: correct beliefs, which are what give our emotions their intellectual content; and our desires, which produce feelings of attraction or aversion regarding what we believe. So the callings out of the crowd at Pentecost, or of the Philippian gaoler, are laden with emotion. Or affection.

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DBachorik's picture

Shaynus wrote:

With respect, I think this is the central problem. Is music art or science? Kinda both, but, it effects people's emotions in ways that aren't comparable to mechanics at all. One man's musical meat is another man's poison, so to come at how music effects the emotions scientifically only works if everyone's emotions and tastes are the same. Physics works as a science because the laws are always the same no matter where in the universe, and that's great, but music isn't like that. The technocrats of music like yourself may not be able to see clearly the layman's perspective on this precisely because you think in technical terms of measures, beats and the harmful effects of dotted eighth note delays. Subjectivity of standards is more difficult than the cut and dry standards you put forward. But subjectivity doesn't mean anything goes, but it may mean what goes for this person may not go for that.

Shaynus,

Art or science - yes, I agree, music is both. I tried to make that clear in my very brief statement about music and communication: 

  • musical sound (all aspects/elements of music, the performing space/acoustic, and anything else outside of the receiver/listener) exists in time;
  • a receiver/listener experiences musical sound in a variety of ways, or through many ‘filters’, simultaneously;
  • some of the ‘filters’ are idiosyncratic (how the listener feels at the moment, his personal taste, his past experience with the particular piece or style, etc.);
  • some of the ‘filters’ are shared by a large part of a listener’s community, society, or culture (educational background, dominant music types in the society, age, gender, etc.);
  • some of the ‘filters’ are common to all people at all times and in all places (being a human, made in the image of God, fallen, having a physical body, etc.) Please see a brief discussion and report on research regarding a ‘universal’ emotion responses to music here.
  • All of these ‘filters’ are functioning when a person hears music, although they do not all necessarily function in the same way or to the same degree.

I am sorry that you did not pick up on that. Experiencing music is one thing, analyzing it is another. I strive to do both, although I know I do both imperfectly.

It is vital that we recognize the beauty, complexity, and power of music - it is a glorious gift from the Lord. Unfortunately, it is also another gift fallen man has used in corrupted ways, as he has done with every other gift of God. We must be willing to wrestle with both the 'art' and 'science' of music, guided by a sound theology, and let the conclusions leads us where they may, whether we would have chosen the same arrival point or not. In this way we may be able to have civil, Christian conversations, without resorting to name-calling. We have the ability and responsibility to create, select, enjoy and use music for our benefit and God's glory. We have the ability to do the opposite. May He give us the grace and wisdom to do the former in our respective families and churches.

You have my sincerest wishes for a blessed new year in Christ,

Doug

 

Director of music studies, Bob Jones Memorial Bible College

PhD candidate, Durham University

Shaynus's picture

Yeah I pretty much agree. I'm questioning your and others' ability to perceive how the filters actually work in someone else, especially in a group of people with whom you have very little in common.

Shaynus's picture

Doug, 

Could you analyze the following lyrics and song (to the tune of Auld Lang Syne) should I sing it in church under your rubric?

 

When on the day the great I Am
The faithful and the true
The Lamb who was for sinners slain
Is making all things new.

Behold our God shall live with us
And be our steadfast light
And we shall ere his people be
All glory be to Christ!

All glory be to Christ our king!
All glory be to Christ!
His rule and reign will ever sing,
All glory be to Christ!

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