Church Music

The variety in church music is unimaginable. Formerly there were denominations from which to choose. Now these segments of the Christian community are further divided by styles of worship. The styles are basically defined by the type music used. Diversity reigns.

For many there is a difference in church music and Christian music. All church music should be Christian but not all Christian music is church music. At least by the standard of many people. There has long been Christian music suitable for concerts, camps, entertainment, media play, and rallies. Now in many churches it is mainstream in worship.

Once again the church that is supposed to influence society has been influenced by society. The church all too often follows secular trends rather than setting trends.

Melody in music speaks to the mind. Harmony speaks to the spirit. Scripture recognizes this and refers to “making melody from your heart to the Lord.” Rhythm, tempo, or the beat, impacts the body. The further the tempo, or number of beats per minute, is accelerated above the average pulse rate of 72 per minute, the greater the physical response. At a certain point this “feel good” music plays into a “me” centered experience.

Even little children will start jiggling when there is music with a dominant beat. Younger persons prefer music with a faster beat because their pulse rate is higher than older people.

Hymns, so popular for generations, have been largely replaced by choruses in some churches. Both are good. Hymns are basically sung about God and choruses sung to God. Hymns tend to have a much more sound theological basis. A blend of the two can be a bless.

Some congregations suffer when they are accustomed to one style and are suddenly subjected to another. There is a reaction to what many call “Seven-Eleven Music.” That is, choruses consisting of seven words repeated eleven times.

Churches utilizing either a traditional, contemporary, or blended form of worship all appeal to a certain clientele and provide a setting conducive for worship for different people. Each has its advantage. The style to which a congregation is accustomed is one thing that drew them together initially. To radically and dramatically change that style is to risk dividing the body.

Through the decades church music has changed significantly several times. Those best making the transition have done it gracefully and gradually not simply to suit their taste but to meet the needs of the people. That same technique is often used today to the advantage of all.

There is a difference in church music and Christian music. Music in worship is not to be an end in itself but a means to an end. The intended end should be true worship.

When the form of worship detracts from the fact of worship the intended end is lost.