A hard hitting post here on singing in church and how it has all gone horribly wrong.
Or has it?
What do you think?
Some great comments, thank you, making all kinds of useful observations and interesting points.
My thoughts (in no particular order of importance):
- we place great weight on music with our expectations: convey truth, inspire, other connections with emotions, convey liturgical words, connect one part of written liturgy to another part;
- at any given time in the present, it can be difficult to work out what current favourites will last and what will be forgotten (cf. trying to do this in past times ... who knew that Tallis, Handel compositions would last ... who could work out which of hundreds of hymns written by Watts, Wesleys, Newton would be the dozen or so that are regularly sung in 2016?);
- what we think of as "great" hymns and songs is a mixture of lyrics and music (e.g., reading Jonathan Aitken's biography of John Newton at the moment, Amazing Grace only really "took off" when the tune we are familiar with became associated with it; also, it first gained popularity in the States and only later in the UK);
- while there is an "absolute" standard or standards we can apply to words (faithful or not to Scripture, orthodox or not re creedal belief, accurate or not re rendition of part of spectrum of belief we favour (Catholic sacramental truths, Evangelical understanding of atonement, etc) this is simply not so re music: from age to age, different styles of music are appreciated, unappreciated and reappreciated, and within a given age, different styles of music connect with different cultural and sub-cultural tastes (cf range of styles in some parish churches between first, second and third services, and choices made re attendance which reflect generational preferences) ... that is, the musical side of chants, hymns, songs, choruses, anthems, prayers put to music is a complex field to navigate if we are (e.g.) the music director for a pluriform parish ... but navigate we must, because, at least in the corner of the Western field of church which I inhabit, some styles of music are intolerable to some groups of people and it is plain stubbornness which keeps some congregations going with a style of music which is obviously to the taste of one section of the parish only;
- yes, some education could help greater appreciation of a wider range of music.