Christian Music Has Come a Long Way, Baby!

Christian Music Has Come a Long Way, Baby!

by Short Little Rebel

My father was a career Army man.  That is actually relevant to my story because this meant I never stayed in one place for too long.  We moved all over the world and across many states here in the U.S.  I tell you this because I can confidently say that I have dabbled in pretty much every denomination’s church music as we visited church after church in our travels.  My girlhood conclusion on ‘church’ music:   YAWN.  And another YAWN.

I love to dance.  I love to sing.  In fact, throughout my 20’s, dancing is the number one way I stayed fit.  But dancing in Church?  No way!  In fact, I distinctly remember feeling a long frown on my face as the organ ground away on those impossible melodies- more like dirges than a medium to worship the most exciting Person who ever lived!

Needless to say, it never occurred to me to listen to Christian music for a good time.  Church music was more like a penance for my sins on Sunday than for fun.

But recently, I have been turned on to a new phenomena:  Christian Pop.  Check out these tunes from Soul Candy by Michael Castaneras & the House of Praise Worship Band:

Now, THIS is what God intended when he made music!  Why should Christian music be boring?  Isn’t it about the most exciting, the most dynamic, the most powerful thing on earth:  God & Jesus?  I mean, look at how God applied his  mind & his  talents.  Is a sunset boring?  Are birds chirping in the morning mist dull?  When the trees turn to fire in the autumn sun, do you yawn?  Is it punishment to see the underwater world explode into life?  Do the colors in cosmic clouds cause you pain?  NOO!!  They reflect the joyful nature of God’s own heart!

So why should music feel like a penance??  I am so glad that Christians have finally understood the joyful nature of God.  No longer do we look down our noses at musical joy and soulful singing.  What a HUGE relief!



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17 replies

  1. Old ceremonies accompanied by equally ancient music makes sense of a sort when recalling an event now over 2,000 years back. A sort of regular museum visit. They say the ceremonies were new and novel back then, though. Fresh. So must have been the music as it was added. Then there was enough and nobody wrote any more, maybe.

    People heavily invested in the status quo run things to avoid change…in churches, too. And if you’re on about eternity, you don’t want to change with every breeze, do you?

    But if you want to engage people, you have to speak their language, something the big churches haven’t managed very well. They’re still hung up on the Puritans who saw sex everywhere and music and dance as sin. Apollo rules; Dionysius is anathema…
    Time cures all (though we don’t stay to notice) and perhaps Dionysius is striiring once more…I hope so.

    • lol, Jack! I don’t know if they were ‘fresh’, but they sure did scare the dickens out of the parishers! I wonder if the original Catholic churches, ceremonies & music wasn’t more about cowing people into submission than about raising them up? Then, Protestantism seemed to go into the opposite extreme- no fun for anyone! Bare benches that hurt your butt, no drinking, no dancing. Perhaps the Christian body has needed a little time to figure Jesus out. I have been studying more about the original diciples and the original church- it is FASCINATING! So much ‘tradition’ has nothing to do with Jesus or the original church!

      No matter how we go here, I am soooo GLAD! This music makes my heart glad..

  2. There is something the Church music being ephemeral. Every time period since the Renaissance has produced something of the cream that rose to the top. That’s the “good, old stuff” that’s composed much more musically than almost anything since about the 1930’s. A survey of Christmas carols is a pretty good example of just that. There’s at least one in the standard pantheon from every musical period since the Middle Ages (Veni, Veni Emmanuel is a 9th century chant. I’lll have to double check, but I think that’s the earliest).

    It’s not simply the music, but the text as well. Each song should be a little theology lesson. If that’s missing, then is the music really there for worship or entertainment? Personally, for the truly solemn ceremonies, I prefer the old, flowing traditional literature. It’s peaceful. Plus, most of it is only done once a year and everyone knows it.

    I will say, though, that “musicians” who don’t put the art into it, do ruin the experience of great organ masterworks and motets. It’s so much more than notes on the page. And so often when they are done on instruments with less than 100 ranks, only two manuals, no pipes, etc., it’s just dreadful. Same with music that’s beyond the ability of most singers. Many’s the time I hear the Hallelujah Chorus and wince – and that’s probably the easiest chorus in that oratorio.

    • CL, I agree that there ARE great ‘oldies’ and that many of them have stood the test of time- Christmas carols, etc. I’m referring to the hymns I heard growing up. They were impossible to follow (to sing to) and the language (including all the ‘old english’) was beyond understanding. I’m not saying that they didn’t have any value, but I am saying that they weren’t very joyful- everyone kind of frowned when they sang. I associate the warbling of old ladies with those songs!

      I do not intend to insult great Christian music of the past. It’s just that I love this new music so much more. It moves me and really plugs into the joy I feel with God.

      • Having grown up in a different musical tradition, we had our fair share of duds and then schlock for a while that at least the text was straight out of scripture. Some of that stuff is still hanging around, too. I always did have a thing for classical, though. Even more so now that I perform it regularly.

        It boils down to taste. I have an easier time finding God with peace and no backbeat.

  3. I pretty much agree with Cultural here. But part of that is the suppressed historian in me. I love the traditional liturgies and chants (I do prefer padded pews to bare benches and standing, though).

    The traditional elements speak to the age long suffering of the faithful, and as a mathematically trained musician the sheer elegance of the baroque (Handel et al) when preformed properly speak (to me, anyway) of the precision of the universe.

    But Cultural is right, all ages have left something in the church, all are valid, some are beautiful, or great, or meaningful. For me, that includes the Christian Pop, as well as Christian Country, it doesn’t speak very loudly to me as it probably does others but, I do enjoy it.

    • Neenergyobserver,

      I truly meant no insult. More, I wished to share a ‘new’ discovery of mine. Perhaps if I were a trained musician, I would feel differently. But as a ‘commoner’, I do love the freedom this new music offers. I used to dislike church- it felt so restrained and…solemn. God seems more a God of exuberance- look around at everything he made- than of constraints. He is also a God of irony- although we must live within his rules, when we do, we gain ultimate freedom.

      So many traditional churches frown on overt displays of joy in church. Why? That is my only point.

      But no matter how you worship God, it is good. If the oldies lift your spirit, then great. We are all of the same body and we are all One.

      • NO, no, no, I was in no way insulted, I like the new stuff too. Not in the same way, true but, its good, and I do understand the stifling feeling, I had it as well as a kid, and that alone makes this genre(?) good if it helps. I really liked your videos.

        You give me far too much credit as a musician, I was a pretty good horn player and an OK singer.

        And church is supposed to be a joyful experience. my favorite (and its helped me through some truly awful performances) is “Make a joyful noise unto the Lord”.

        My own view is that God is much like an Uncle, teaching you to do the right thing with humor and (in my case anyway, I hope) patience.

    • If you want to hear gorgeous Baroque, or late Renaissane or early Classical, try the Venetians, and not just Vivaldi. I was introduced to Baldassare Gallupi a few years back. Fine stuff. Palestrina is another but he wasn’t Venetian – and you have to be precise with rhythm or it dies. Handel…And He Shall Purify is a killer.

      There are others. Monteverdi, Scarlatti, etc. Done a cappella they do stir the soul. And what is interesting is that the composers who worked for the oespedali (orphanages) wrote the material for specific girls. They learned music so they could have a profession.

      • Thanks, I will. Palestrina, I think I’ve heard a bit of but, Gallupi is new to me. “And He Shall Purify” is indeed a killer. Part of what I’ve always loved about baroque in general is the mathematical precision of it. Even on the secular side such as Handel’s “Music for the Royal Fireworks” it has to be precisely right or it all falls apart. One of my sisters used to refer to it as “God, the engineer”.

        That information on the composers writing for specific girls is very enlightening, nothing like a hand up, is there?

    • It’s all interesting about the oespidali, truthfully. I went to Venice with a small chorus from here some years ago and at the churches themselves, particularly the Chiesa della Pieta, Vivaldi’s church, there are whole museums about it. A lot of that music was written for orphan or foundling girls to have a profession. I had a HUGE solo in one piece and Gallupi actually put the girl’s name in the score. Seraphina. And I sang it in the church where she would have, too. Pretty cool.

      • Wow, very cool. That had to be a thrill, especially compared to my highlight of playing “Crown Imperial” (King Edward VIII’s coronation march) under Sir Vivian Dunn of the Royal Marines. I can tell that I’m not going to get a lot of work done today after your recommendations :-) but, it’s going to be great day. Always is when the stereo is hooked to the computer and ‘new’ music is to be discovered on You Tube. Thanks, again.

  4. Now this really makes you want to lift your heart and praise the Lord!! Love it!!!!

  5. CL, I know you are a trained musician. If I had those tunes here on CD, I would love to hear them! I trust you!

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