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Wordwise Insight, Issue #150
January 14, 2017


BIBLE INSIGHTS (and Reader Q & A): What is wrong with using rock style music to convey a Christian message?

WORDWISE HYMNS: My Blog called Wordwise Hymns for you to check out!

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Rock in Church

QUESTION: A conversation started with me lamenting the awful rock music used in church. I insist it does not invite the Holy Spirit, and I feel it hinders Him from coming. My friend tries to justify the music by saying the words seem biblical. (I feel even the words are not all biblical.)

So he says Luther's hymns were put to bar tunes. I wanted proof they weren't, and found your writing. He conceded I was right about Luther, but is wondering about Fanny Crosby and William Booth?

ANSWER: You refer to my article on Barroom Tunes (q.v.). I looked it over again, and I stand by my basic contention that if any of our familiar hymns did use tunes previously set to secular words sung in bars, it is very rare for this to be so. Most tunes were either written for a particular hymn, or borrowed from another hymn.

Then, of course, there are barroom tunes, and there are barroom tunes. In other words, they’re not all equal. If you listen to the secular music likely sung in taverns centuries ago, much of it consists of sentimental ballads. Nothing like the raucous, sensual, driving beat, and deafening noise of some modern rock.

Also, it’s important to recognize that music is a language too. It carries a message of its own. If what the music is saying doesn’t match up with what the words are saying, the result is confusing, to say the least, and it weakens the message of the text.

Rock music’s common message is two-fold: rage and rebellion on the one hand, and unbridled sensuality and sex on the other. This is made clear by such things as the volume and the beat, the words of the songs, and the dress and actions of those on stage. It is also admitted by the rockers themselves. How does that fit with the words of our hymns, or words with any kind of Christian message?

The actual performance of rock...

(To read the remainder of this article, click on Rock in Church.)


Come and Pay Us a Visit!

I have developed a blog that is called Wordwise Hymns. As the title suggests, it is about hymns, and church music in general.

But as many of you will know, a blog is especially designed to facilitate a conversation on its particular subject. Readers can easily post comments about what they see, and I'm able to reply. I hope you will take part in the discussion!

Through 2010, almanac entries dealt with what happened in hymn history on each day of the year. Beginning in 2011, I hope to analyze hymns from a biblical standpoint, linking to the material that has come before.

My hope is that the blog will add to the value of the website and this newsletter, and promote some profitable exchanges on the subject of sacred music.

What happened on this day in hymnology? To find out, click Wordwise Hymns.

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