Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Is It Just Me??? Observations From A Church-Hopper


Is it just me, or am I imagining things?
One moment I am in church, turning to page 463 in the Hymnal, getting ready for a rollicking rendition of *What A Friend We Have In Jesus*, and the next minute the hymnals have been conveniently forgotten in some musty janitors closet, to be replaced with projectors, words with no musical score, and the latest songs from your local Christian Radio Station???
Admitedly, I am hopping from church to church looking for a home church. This seems to be a repeated theme.

So, what gives? When I was about 9 I remember whining in the pew about these 300 year old songs, when a stern blue-haired Sunday School teacher tweaked my ear to let me know in no uncertain terms that those songs are PRECIOUS to her. Someday, according to her, I would find myself clinging to those old hymns, as have many generations. Well, lo and behold, here we are; at middle-age and old Mrs. So & So was absolutely right! So why aren't the youth today learning them???
I don't have a problem with Praise Teams. I think you need to appeal to young and old alike. But values that were good enough for multi-generations are being lost to *pop-culture*. And yes, even Main-Stream Christianity has it's niche in popular culture (per generation). It shifts and changes every so many years.
I understand at one point; "How Great Thou Art" was new material. People probably balked at it initially... And todays Praise Anthems will be considered a part of standard worship, (and hopefully included in a hymnal) 25 years from now.
So my beef ins't against Praise Teams... its with the replacement and devalued effect it's having on my beloved hymnals! I don't understand WHY we have to have 2 services:
Contemporary (HIP) and Traditional (Unhip). Why are we segregated???
One more thing: If your going to place the WORDS to any song on a projector, then for the love of Pete, PLEASE put a musical score! Do you realize that by taking away the hymnal, which most of us learned to read music by, your undermining our youth?? How do think most people learn to read music??? By following the notes in the hymnal, that's how!

I'm a musician. So I get annoyed when they just spring a new song on you with no way to know how the melody goes. Your just supposed to listen and follow along?? When did musicians stop reading music? Why can't they put a score up on the gynormous projector along with the words??? Surely I am not the only person who has noticed you can follow a song you don't know quite easily in a hymnal, because you can SEE the notes rising and falling. Even my 10 year old grandson can keep up, and he doesn't read music. But throw up the words to something that apparently some of the congregation has heard on the radio, and you get SOME of the people singing. The rest just stare at the gynormous projection on the wall.
I think this is a discredit to our youth, because they are the ones who will loose out in the long run. It's a discredit to the authors of the hymns that are falling to the wayside. And it's a shame that we are teaching youth that their own sense of satisfaction and gratification should cast a shadow over what many people love... and what they will come to love in time. Just ask my Sunday School teacher. And a word to the wise: cover your ear when you do.
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