Encouraging, Living, Reaching

I Don’t Like That Music!

I Don’t Like That Music!
Mar 09 Tags: music | 6 Responses Print Save as PDF

“Dad, that song sounded weird.”

A funny thing happened one Sunday that enlightened me about the type of music we use in our gatherings, and shed light on the subject of music, and change in general, in our assemblies.

Currently, our assembly is introducing some changes in the way we do music at the 11:00am service.  Our plan is to balance the use of traditional music while slowly integrating modern music as well.

This is what happened at the 9:30 am service…

In the morning meeting, at the Lord’s Supper, a song was given out which was not as familiar as some of the others.  The song is called “No Blood No Altar Now.”

If you are familiar with this song, then you will know the unique lilt or rhythm this song carries – with its repetitive, consecutive whole notes on the part that goes “but richer blood has–flowed–from–no–bler–veins.”

After that song, my son leaned over and whispered in my ear: “Dad, that song sounded weird.”  Just to be clear: my thirteen year old son does enjoy the songs sung at the Breaking of Bread, given out from the black hymnal, but he wasn’t too familiar with that one.

Now this is what happened at the 11:00 am service…

On that particular Sunday, it was my turn, along with others, to lead the congregations in singing before the preacher gave his message.  As usual, we had selected two newer (written recently) songs balanced by two hymns and a children’s song to sing with the assembly.  One of those songs was “Good, Good Father” by Chris Tomlin.

Some time after the service, a dear elderly saint, sent by a contingent of other dear elderly saints, approached me to speak about how some of the new songs are so hard to follow.  “They have a funny lilt,” she said.  “You don’t know where they are going,” she commented, frustrated.

Understanding each other’s perspective

I couldn’t help but think of my son’s comment during the morning meeting, telling me “Dad, that song sounded weird.”  Ironically, what this elderly saint experienced was exactly the same as what my son experienced in the morning meeting earlier on.

As I listened to the words of this dear old faithful saint I didn’t really know how to help her.  Such is the nature of music, I guess or any changes that don’t involve biblical commands.  We all have our preferences.  We all have our familiars.  We all have our favorites.

Bearing with one another’s preferences

Just like my son had to bear with the “strangeness” of an unfamiliar old song, so too, she would have to bear with the “strangeness” of an unfamiliar new song.

In time, I hope my son will enjoy singing “No Blood, No Altar Now,” like the rest of us, and in time, I hope my elderly friends will enjoy singing the songs I enjoy singing like “Good, Good Father”.

Living out Christ’s mind

In fact, I think our musical tastes provide the context for us to show Christian grace, patience and love to one another.  What I am trying to teach my son is that the assembly is not a place that belongs to our family alone.

Within the assembly are many different age groups and many musical tastes, along with tastes in clothing, learning the Bible, prayer styles and many others. That is why we cannot only play or sing the songs that we like to play.  I think I will give the same advice to that elderly saint.

Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.  Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Philippians 2:3-4.


Editorial Note: Today is assemblyHUB’s 400th article posted.  We thank the Lord for his direction and the writers he has brought to share their views and experiences with the assemblies.

Shane Johnson

Shane Johnson has been commended from Bethel-Park Bible Chapel since 1999.  He resides in Brantford, Ontario with his wife Shelly and his five children.  He has his Bachelor of Arts degree in English and a minor in History.  His passions are teaching children, inspiring young people, writing, music and playing soccer.

6 Responses to I Don’t Like That Music!

  1. Avatar
    Mike klomp

    Good thoughts brother. Music seems to be attached to our nerves in a way that some other things are not.Not in the way that makes us twinge on our skin but a mental sort of twinge. Style changes with time and with generations but the message is what must be the reason to add music to express and excentuate the heart of God to us.

  2. Avatar
    Calvin Fritchey

    I am a musically challenged believer. I know tunes in my head but can’t get them to come out correctly in my mouth. I love almost every kind of music both old and new and yet to be written. I do find it important to use “singable songs” and to have someone actually “lead” us in singing.

    Sometimes some songs sound odd only because the one leading them doesn’t actually lead. I can’t find fault with them because I can’t even start a song correctly. Also I do find many new songs hard to sing, not because of the words, but because of the music it is written in. Many songs that can be sung solo or with a band are hard to sing as a group when many are not musically inclined.

    Maybe the problem can be solved if songwriters understood their songs may be sung by a group of people in church and write accordingly. Some of the older songs could be updated to “easier to sing” music as well.

    I believe that there are many great new songs out there with not so great singable music. I would challenge songwriters today to keep in mind all the saints as there are more non musically inclined (but who can carry a tune) saints than those who are…from my experience!

    I love to sing but others love it more when I dont! 😉

    • Avatar
      John Elliott

      Very good point brother, I was raised in am assembly meeting and lead the music for many years, there was an older lady believer who would always mention to me to add in newer up to date music. Well I did not think it had a place in the local assembly. I have been attending a local meeting (Baptist) which is very close to the assembly meeting, anyway I play lead guitar in the praise team there which is how we lead or time of worship with music. It is very often said we set the mood for the rest of the meeting, preaching of God’s word and we do a mix of old and new music and it does work well. I was wrong. However you are right there are some songs that are meant to be sung to you and some that can be sung together. I have learned no matter what we think God can use anything that glorifies and honors Him let Him out of the box.

  3. Avatar

    While I am in complete agreement that older and younger believers should defer or “bear” others’ preferences or familiar songs, this article misses a major point in selecting music for today’s assemblies. The “singability” of hymns/choruses can range from easy to hard in both older as well as newer songs. But this should not be our measuring stick. Almost all of the “old” hymns/choruses are rich in doctrinal truth. On the other hand, relatively few of the “newer” hymns/choruses contain much doctrine. Most contain little or no doctrine in them, they appeal more to the flesh than the spirit, and that is why they are popular with “younger” believers. If the point of the article is about selecting music, I believe it fails in what our methodology should be. The crux of the matter is that we, as believers, do not get to choose what is appropriate or what we “like” just based on a song’s “singability.” Rather, the purpose of music is that “all that hath breath praise the Lord.” Music is for the praise of God, not for humans’ enjoyment (although I get that we can “enjoy” praising God as well). The “how” or “means” should be based on Scriptural principles like those found in Philippians 4:8. I personally have found that, if we use a Biblical filter, very few of the modern or newer choruses pass Scriptural muster. Our song selection, while accounting for the age group, church activity, etc., is not to please the “choir”; it should be acceptable to God. If we base our song selection on what we think is pleasing to God based on “our likes/dislikes”, our “offering” may get the same reception Cain’s offering did by God. Music is not about us, its about Him. I highly recommend for further reading “It’s Not About the Music” by Dan Lucarini. Oh, and by the way, I am not an “older” believer.

    • Avatar
      Crawford Paul

      Hmm. I’m thinking you need to listen to more newer songs. There are plenty of them that are rich in good doctrine. Some songs are meant to simply praise the Lord and isn’t about doctrine. Saying younger people only care about songs focused on the flesh is disrespectful and certainly not the experience I have had with young Christians.

    • Avatar
      Shane Johnson

      Stephen, your thoughts are helpful but miss one thing: not all songs need to be doctrinal to be acceptable to God as praise. To insist that all songs have thick doctrinal content is your own subjective opinion, your own measuring stick. God’s measuring stick, on the other hand, is the book of Psalms, which includes all types of music, some doctrinal, some simply singing praises without doctrinal content, or little doctrinal content, and that is God’s holy Word. Some use loud instruments, some do not. Variety seems to be the pattern. It is His style we should seek to imitate in the assembly. Psalm 105 is doctrinal but Psalm 150 simply sings and celebrates his praises.

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