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Worship discuss Theologically sound hymns with upbeat music in the The Church forums; As an extension of "When a hymn is objected to in worship" thread; what is your opinion of theologically sound hymns that are put to ...

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    Theologically sound hymns with upbeat music

    As an extension of "When a hymn is objected to in worship" thread; what is your opinion of theologically sound hymns that are put to more upbeat or contemporary melodies? One specific genre of music comes from Sovereign Grace Ministries (of Mark Altrogge, GLAD fame). It seems that many of their songs are spot on theologically. Some are slower; contemplative and worshipful. Others are a bit more upscale; not rock but definitely contemporary.

    I would like to know what the PB community thinks about these songs and using them in worship.
    Bill Brown
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    The style is not nearly as important as the substance, so while I may not particularly like a tune, I can't object theologically, just stylistically.
    Philip
    Student at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary
    Attending Christ the Redeemer Church (Anglican)
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    Quote Originally Posted by P. F. Pugh View Post
    The style is not nearly as important as the substance, so while I may not particularly like a tune, I can't object theologically, just stylistically.
    Amen!

    Personally, I love Sovereign Grace Ministries' music. My favorite song ("Jesus, Thank You") is done by them in fact. I prefer a contemporary style as long as the music is theologically accurate and rich. If it is for entertainment or to appeal to nominal Christians, I think it's trash. It's about content. This is the same for traditional music or singing a cappella though; if a style is preferred in order to be "more churchy," allegedly (though falsely) "orthodox," or have some sort of false piety, I likewise think it's trash.

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    I have my preferences, but I will give a thought provoking quote from a Reformed minister..."There is no such thing as Christian music, only Christian lyrics."

    I will not say whether I agree, but it does give pause.
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    I worshipped at a PCA last Sunday that does this--the lyrics are left alone, but the musical arrangement behind the lyrics is updated. I found it often made it easier to sing, but I'm probably in the minority camp. I also love to sing the Psalms, even with older music, especially when it's not super slow, so I probably don't fit in a specific category.
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    I like it.
    TE Kevin Rogers
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    I'm curious - what is the purpose of changing the musical composition? Would it be to appeal to some sort of emotion?
    D
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    Quote Originally Posted by Joshua View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Herald View Post
    I would like to know what the PB community thinks about these songs and using them in worship.
    Really?
    Josh, really . There's a reason for my madness.
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    BJClark is offline. Puritanboard Doctor
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    Our church does use them in Worship in our early service, and some of them in our later service.

    I'm curious - what is the purpose of changing the musical composition? Would it be to appeal to some sort of emotion?
    When we Worship God, it's not only in a logical manner, but with our emotions as well, even our prayers should have some type of emotion behind them, or are we to feel nothing emotionally when we Worship God and Sing His praises??

    When God convicts us of our sin, it triggers our emotions..

    So what does it matter if upbeat music triggers emotions of Praise and Joy and Thankfulness of what God Has done for us? Would that be wrong? Or just different than what some are used to?

    Many Nations of people use upbeat music when they Sing God's praises.
    Bobbi Clark
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    Quote Originally Posted by BJClark View Post
    When we Worship God, it's not only in a logical manner, but with our emotions as well, even our prayers should have some type of emotion behind them, or are we to feel nothing emotionally when we Worship God and Sing His praises??
    I agree that emotion is a part of and consequence of these actions.

    When God convicts us of our sin, it triggers our emotions..

    So what does it matter if upbeat music triggers emotions of Praise and Joy and Thankfulness of what God Has done for us? Would that be wrong? Or just different than what some are used to?
    I think that the lyrics are what would first and foremost trigger such feelings. If that is the case, why tamper with the melody?
    D
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    i love it. and i agree that the lyrics are more important than style (granted you can understand the lyrics, i.e. "Death Metal Worship" )

    The best groups out there recovering old hymns to modern music, in my opinion, are:
    Indelible Grace Music
    Matthew Smith
    Red Mountain Music
    Sojourn Music

    My favorite thing about some of these groups is they are re-doing hymns that noone sings or knows about anymore (sometimes)

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    As a sometime composer and former active musician let me state while there is no "devil's beat", contrary to what many 1980's parachurch video tapes and films tried to convince us, music even without lyrics can and does invoke emotion and imagery that is universal. Some tunes will cause one to look inwardly, others to forget oneself, some to look to God. I can guarantee you it is possible to take the most reverent Psalm and make it just the opposite by changing the tune it is sung to.
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    Although I have my preference, I don't think we can object to a slightly more up beat song which is doctrinally sound.
    sarah
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hungus View Post
    As a sometime composer and former active musician let me state while there is no "devil's beat", contrary to what many 1980's parachurch video tapes and films tried to convince us, music even without lyrics can and does invoke emotion and imagery that is universal. Some tunes will cause one to look inwardly, others to forget oneself, some to look to God. I can guarantee you it is possible to take the most reverent Psalm and make it just the opposite by changing the tune it is sung to.
    So we should not sing Amazing Grace to the tune from Gilligan's Island?
    Rev. Toby L. Brown

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    Quote Originally Posted by Herald View Post
    As an extension of "When a hymn is objected to in worship" thread; what is your opinion of theologically sound hymns that are put to more upbeat or contemporary melodies? One specific genre of music comes from Sovereign Grace Ministries (of Mark Altrogge, GLAD fame). It seems that many of their songs are spot on theologically. Some are slower; contemplative and worshipful. Others are a bit more upscale; not rock but definitely contemporary.

    I would like to know what the PB community thinks about these songs and using them in worship.
    My only complaint about the genre of music is that regardless of what it sounds like, it ought to be singable by everyone in the congregation, which generally means it needs to have harmony (parts) or be written with little tonal dynamics. One of the things I find very frustrating with modern arrangements is the presumption that the music is either performed by a high register voice, or that only melodies are sung. I am a very deep bass, and if I am going to sing in worship, it nearly requires that the music be in parts (or written very low for those with high voices).

    The principle is that worship is done by the congregation. Music therefore ought to be chosen such that all the congregation can actually sing it. That excludes things written in unison for the most part.
    Brian Withnell
    Deacon, OPC
    Leesburg, Virginia

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    In my opinion, which is just my opinion, the music should fit with the lyrics. If the lyrics of a hymn express our joy in the Lord, I think it's perfectly appropriate to set to an upbeat musical arrangement. But if they are meant to express reverence, then it's not appropriate. I think Mark Altrogge does a good job of putting lyrics to music that fits the lyrics. On the other hand, my wife and I visited a church a few years ago that did some kind of calypso arrangement of "How Great Thou Art." That I found difficult to enter into.
    Mark Hettler
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    I'm going to take the minority opinion here and say that the music (besides the lyrics) does matter.
    There are certain rythmns and melodies that are certainly carnal and do stir less than pious desires in some folks.
    That may be a result of culture or it may not be. I am just giving my opinion.
    Willie Grills
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    You can take any hymn and make it 'upbeat'. David Crowder gets a great sound on "Come Thou Fount". Check out Stuart Townsend's stuff. He is basically a modern day hymn writer. He often doesn't even use a refrain.


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    Quote Originally Posted by KMK View Post
    You can take any hymn and make it 'upbeat'. David Crowder gets a great sound on "Come Thou Fount". Check out Stuart Townsend's stuff. He is basically a modern day hymn writer. He often doesn't even use a refrain.
    Perhaps you though have it on another aspect of the issue.
    Have you been to a David Crowder concert or any modern Christian rock concert?

    There is a not a real discernible difference in the look and behavior of those attending a Christian rock concert compared to a secular one.
    Willie Grills
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    Quote Originally Posted by Grillsy View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by KMK View Post
    You can take any hymn and make it 'upbeat'. David Crowder gets a great sound on "Come Thou Fount". Check out Stuart Townsend's stuff. He is basically a modern day hymn writer. He often doesn't even use a refrain.
    Perhaps you though have it on another aspect of the issue.
    Have you been to a David Crowder concert or any modern Christian rock concert?

    There is a not a real discernible difference in the look and behavior of those attending a Christian rock concert compared to a secular one.
    I am not a big Crowder fan. In fact, I am not a big fan of modern worship. I was assuming that Crowder is considered 'upbeat' and his rendition of "Come Thou Fount" is, therefore, 'upbeat'. When people use the word 'upbeat' they usually mean that it involves drums, electric guitars, synthesized keyboards, and simple melodies sung with a breathy tone. If you want 'upbeat' hymns just add drums, guitars, keyboards and sing 'hue' instead of 'you'. Presto! And to round it off, put some real skinny glasses and a goatee on the lead singer.


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    No general opinion.

    In the Trinity Hymnal (OPC,PCA) "Rock of Ages" is in both the traditional tune and a modern (James Ward) re-make.

    I like them both (even though I view them as two totally different hymns). I would not want to lose the historical sense that connects us with former generations of believers in the original tune, but find the re-made tune as moving and God glorifying.

    The Regulative principle "trick" as I'm understanding it (may not have this completely down biblicaly) is that the singer and the instruments, somehow are not to call attention to themselves, but toward God.

    Without that, it's self adulation and entertainment. Nothing wrong with that in itself, but it's not worship of God (maybe of self, talent, personal entertainment, etc.)
    Scott
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    Quote Originally Posted by Grillsy View Post
    I'm going to take the minority opinion here and say that the music (besides the lyrics) does matter.
    There are certain rythmns and melodies that are certainly carnal and do stir less than pious desires in some folks.
    That may be a result of culture or it may not be. I am just giving my opinion.
    Would you expound, please? What rhythms? Which melodies? What are their characteristics?

    I've heard this argument many times before, but without any substance behind it.
    Rae W. | Ruling Elder @ Grace Central Presbyterian Church (PCA) | Columbus, OH
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    Quote Originally Posted by Grillsy View Post
    I'm going to take the minority opinion here and say that the music (besides the lyrics) does matter.
    There are certain rythmns and melodies that are certainly carnal and do stir less than pious desires in some folks.
    That may be a result of culture or it may not be. I am just giving my opinion.
    Yes, I would be very interested in hearing the line of argument. I've encountered the position before as well, with little attempt to define "carnality" or "sensuality". One argument was that certain syncopated drum beats are not in sync with the heart beat, and this therefore unnatural, and not appropriate for worship. I'm not sure about this argument, especially considering that the heartbeat is very syncopated.

    This brings me to similar question I've been pondering: If the music (aside from lyrics) succeeds in bringing the worshipper into a heightened state of emotion and excitement, is this a good thing? It's clear that certain music evokes certain emotions; should this be used as an aid to worship, or do only the words matter?

    cheers.
    Dennis Oh
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    Here's a question: why aren't more theologically sound hymns paired with "upbeat" music? Why is our default mode "dour"? Yes, there are appropriate times for our songs to be slow, contemplative, even mournful . . . but there's also a time to celebrate God's grace with joy in our hearts, and our music (not just our lyrics) should reflect that joy.

    Thoughts?
    Rae W. | Ruling Elder @ Grace Central Presbyterian Church (PCA) | Columbus, OH
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    Quote Originally Posted by Classical Presbyterian View Post
    So we should not sing Amazing Grace to the tune from Gilligan's Island?
    Toni Cunningham, Wife of Bill (Theognome)
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    Quote Originally Posted by Knoxienne View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Classical Presbyterian View Post
    So we should not sing Amazing Grace to the tune from Gilligan's Island?
    Amazing Grace sung to the tune of House of the Rising Sun, on the other hand, can be really powerful. The Blind Boys of Alabama recorded a rendition like that about 10 years ago and it gives me chills.
    Rae W. | Ruling Elder @ Grace Central Presbyterian Church (PCA) | Columbus, OH
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    Maybe we should remember that many of the tunes that we associate as being traditional to the hymns were at one time 'modern'. Many of them cause a great stir among Christians and churches as being influenced by the world.
    'There's nae jouking in the cause of Christ' - James Guthrie

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    Quote Originally Posted by Classical Presbyterian View Post
    So we should not sing Amazing Grace to the tune from Gilligan's Island?
    So I take it that "Immortal Invisible" to the tune "Away in a Manger" could also detract from the words.

    Hmmm ... I would think "O Sacred Head Now Wounded" in an upbeat musical style might be a little detracting as well.
    Brian Withnell
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brian Withnell View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Classical Presbyterian View Post
    So we should not sing Amazing Grace to the tune from Gilligan's Island?
    So I take it that "Immortal Invisible" to the tune "Away in a Manger" could also detract from the words.

    Hmmm ... I would think "O Sacred Head Now Wounded" in an upbeat musical style might be a little detracting as well.
    This is true. When it comes to music for corporate worship, the music should serve the lyrics, not the other way around.
    Rae W. | Ruling Elder @ Grace Central Presbyterian Church (PCA) | Columbus, OH
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    Quote Originally Posted by raekwon View Post
    This is true. When it comes to music for corporate worship, the music should serve the lyrics, not the other way around.
    I love hymns, and usually I prefer the traditional tunes. There are a few cases where the traditional tune doesn't seem to fit, or modern tunes seem to fit better. One that comes to mind is "O the Deep, Deep Love of Jesus." I really like the hymn and I love the traditional tune, but I don't like the two together. I think the minor key is beautiful, and it's a lot of fun to sing in parts, but the words are so much more uplifting and joyful than the tune. I haven't heard a modern tune for this one, so I'm still waiting.

    I highly recommend Indelible Grace to those who love hymns. For some hymns they stick with the traditional tune, and for others they go modern. "Come Ye Sinners" is an example where I think Indelible Grace's tune is better fitting than what we sing in our hymnal.
    Daniel
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    Some of it can depend on the hymn. For example, the hymn Come Ye Sinners has a wonderful tune that, ironically, sounds a bit depressing thus, at one church I went to, the assistant pastor set it to a more joyful tune. Similarly, "Arise My Soul Arise"'s traditional melody is a bit mellow for the powerful words.

    On the other hand, I have been absolutely disappointed with a modern rendition of "For All the Saints" because the old Ralph Vaughan Williams tune captured the message of the hymn so well (and, in my book, ranks with "A Mighty Fortress" as one of the great hymn/tune combinations of all time) that the mellow modern tune seemed disconsonant and not fitting for the powerful lyrics.

    Again, it depends on the hymn.
    Philip
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    I agree that both the words and the music are important. God-focused lyrics and God-honoring arrangements in a variety of genre are fine with me for general settings, but I prefer hymns for corporate worship services.
    Sandra, Lady of the Lake
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    Quote Originally Posted by raekwon View Post
    Here's a question: why aren't more theologically sound hymns paired with "upbeat" music? Why is our default mode "dour"? Yes, there are appropriate times for our songs to be slow, contemplative, even mournful . . . but there's also a time to celebrate God's grace with joy in our hearts, and our music (not just our lyrics) should reflect that joy.

    Thoughts?
    Is there any way to answer this statement (or the OP) without reducing oneself to subjectivism?

    Also... who's dour?
    D
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    Quote Originally Posted by Edelfäule View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by raekwon View Post
    Here's a question: why aren't more theologically sound hymns paired with "upbeat" music? Why is our default mode "dour"? Yes, there are appropriate times for our songs to be slow, contemplative, even mournful . . . but there's also a time to celebrate God's grace with joy in our hearts, and our music (not just our lyrics) should reflect that joy.

    Thoughts?
    Is there any way to answer this statement (or the OP) without reducing oneself to subjectivism?

    Also... who's dour?
    Well, we're kidding ourselves if we think that we can NOT be subjective when it comes to questions like this (which we'll all have in one way or another). Being subjective isn't necessarily a bad thing. What's bad is when we let the subjective outweigh the objective, and I don't think we're necessarily doing that. *shrug*

    -----Added 8/4/2009 at 08:46:04 EST-----

    Still waiting for those rhythms and melodies that stir up carnal desires. I want to be sure to avoid them!
    Rae W. | Ruling Elder @ Grace Central Presbyterian Church (PCA) | Columbus, OH
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    I'm for all forms of music, except the accordion. The accordion MUST be of the devil.
    Pergamum


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    Quote Originally Posted by Pergamum View Post
    I'm for all forms of music, except the accordion. The accordion MUST be of the devil.
    Lawrence Welk never thought so. I'll bet there are accordians in his heavenly mansion, if he has one.
    Sandra, Lady of the Lake
    CBA, Acton ME
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    Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. Hebrews 4:16

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