Song leaders (worship leaders) must remember that a leader who steps in front of a congregation never gets a second chance to make a first impression.
Sunday, April 26, 2015
Song Leaders?-part 1
My earliest memories of going to church include standing with a hymnbook in my hands, singing vigorously while trying to see over the pew in front of me. It never entered my mind that the day would come when the hymnbook would begin to disappear in the sanctuary. Many people wrongly suppose that the hymnbook disappeared because of the invention of the “big screen.” There are several reasons why many modern sanctuaries are without hymnbooks.
The first thing that disappeared was not the book, but the effective song leader. By song leader, I mean someone who is knowledgeable in conducting skills and expresses the essence of the worship music while utilizing these skills. As I travel around to a variety of churches, I seldom see a song leader who even makes an attempt to use conducting patterns. Those who do not understand conducting patterns most often do not understand how conducting gestures visually express the essence of the music part of the music they are trying to lead.
Second, I seldom see a song leader who really leads the people in singing. The congregational song leader should direct the music with passion. The character of the song leader’s beat pattern should reflect the essence and character of the song he or she is trying to represent with conducting gestures.
Third, the facial expressions of the song leader should mirror the message of the text. Believe it or not, the conductor’s visage should change as the meaning of the text changes. The body language of the song leader should be non-verbal effusion of the director’s inner desire to express the meaning of the text and the music part of the music.
Saturday, April 25, 2015
The Aim of Musicing
Johann Sabastian Bach once said, “The aim and final end of all music should be none other than the glory of God and the refreshment of the soul.” There is much said in the Bible, especially in the Old Testament and also in the New Testament, about our responsibility to music unto God for His Glory and honor and praise. It is less understood as to whether or not we should music in order to refresh the soul.
First of all, we should give some explanation as to what J. S. Bach could have meant by making the statement that one of the final ends of our musicing should be for “the refreshment of the soul”. A general definition of soul is “the spiritual part of a human being” or the “the seat of affections of mankind”. The Greek word psuche (5590) is translated life, lives, soul, souls, minds, appears in 95 verses in the AV New Testament. We are not sure what Bach meant but it is safe to conjecture that he meant that one of music’s purposes was the refreshment of the “inner man”.
Bach was correct in believing that music was created by God for His Glory and for the refreshment and edification of man. Christian musician have the awesome responsibility and privilege to use this wonderful art form to honor God and to edify and refresh the psyche of mankind. We also know that Bach put God first in much of his compositional efforts because he often SDG (sole Deo gloria) at the end of his compositions.
Friday, April 24, 2015
Good and Fearless Musicians-part 4
Oswald Chambers was born in 1874 and lived until 1917, so he experienced the major changes that were happening: the music impressionism of Claude Debussy (1862-1918); the art of Vincent Van Gogh (1853-1890), Paul Gauguin (1848-1903), and Pierre-Auguste Renoir; and the existentialism philosophy of Soren Aabye Kierkegaard (1813-1855). Although we do not know exactly which philosophies Chambers was referring too, l love the people mentioned above exerted an influence on the major changes that affected fine arts aesthetics. What we do know is that this great thinker was concerned before the turn of the twentieth century about the philosophy of fine arts aesthetics.
Chambers did not live long enough to experience the emancipation of dissonance by Schoenberg, Webern and Berg and the anti-music ascetic of composers like John Cage that came later in the century. However, he could perceive that “The kingdom of aesthetics lies in groveling quagmire, half fine, half impure”. Little did he know how much the aesthetic developments of the twentieth century would affect religious music in the latter part of the twentieth and now in the twenty first century and how fearful Christian musicians would become of resisting these destructive changes.
Thursday, April 23, 2015
Thought for the Day
Ay musician who is truly an artist says something aesthetically with the styles of music he or she performs. Failure to realize this fact will cause a Christian musician to neither fear what God thinks nor what man is saying aesthetically with his musicing.
Good and Fearless Musicians-part 3
Since we have asserted that the Christian musician must submit a music aesthetic to the Lordship of Christ, we should make some brief explanation of what is meant by the term music aesthetic. In the study of the aesthetics of music, one must define very clearly what music aesthetics really is. A standard definition of aesthetics may be explained as a set of principles concerned with the nature and appreciation of beauty in all of the fine arts. Because of this universally known understanding of what aesthetics means, musicians must understand that the study of the aesthetics of music traditionally deals with beauty in music rather than its popularity, usefulness, or utilitarian aspects.
Music composition is the result of the composer or arranger’s organizing sounds and silences into a musical thought or congruent whole so as to arouse emotions in the listener and performer in order to elicit some kind of intended response inside of the hearer. In some cases this response will hopefully be an aesthetic experience within the listener and performer’s mind. What happens covertly inside of the hearer may or may not result in an overt response.
These organized sound colors which are the result of combinations of vocal and or instrumental sounds produced from rhythms, melodies, and harmonies that are aesthetically pleasing or harmonious sounding to the listener are considered to be music. Combinations that negate the musical elements of the combination of sounds and silences produced from rhythms, melodies and harmonies are considered anti-music. Although the result of this anti-music may have much shock value and therefore have some sort of value, either negative or positive, it is still considered philosophically anti-music.
Wednesday, April 22, 2015
Good and Fearless Musicians-part 2
In my opinion, the greatest problem with the fine art of church music today is without doubt those who are “pandering to popular taste”. Certainly every astute Christian musician must be concerned with music ministry that is relevant to the congregation who will listen to and perform worship and evangelistic music. However, I believe that Oswald Chambers made an astute observation that is still apropos today. As he observed there is a great need for all the “kingdoms of this world” to become Christ’s kingdoms. Furthermore, if Christian musicians are going to submit the fine art of music to the Lordship of Christ in order that it can truly become His, musicians must become “good and fearless Christians”.
I concur with Oswald Chambers that the music aesthetic of many Christian musicians “lies in groveling quagmire”. Aesthetics in the arts and especially in the aesthetics of sacred (religious) music will continue to decline in the twenty first century unless Christian musicians have more fear of God’s will than the will of the people. Proverbs 9:10 explains that, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding.” So, a Christian music aesthetic must be developed in the fear of the God who created music. This fear is not an inordinate fear but rather a “guiding hand’ for the Christian artist. With this type of paradigm the Christian artist is not restricted or stifled but rather guided by the blessed Holy Spirit.