The pastor’s message last Sunday got me into some reflections this week. I guess that usually is a good thing when a message resonates. I missed those days, when I would just sit at the back of the church with me half dozing off and let the message comes and would go out later in the night to run and see how it help me with my running. Corona time really affected my running somehow because I can’t really doze off in my own house while virtually worshipping. It just won’t work. I would go into deep sleep instead. So many of my runs were ruined. And usually online worship is too short by the time I woke up from my dozing or deep sleep and it was all over. I am thinking it is really the second doze that helps.
This time the message was not about running. Usually I don’t listen to music when I run. No ipod and I don’t want to waste battery on my phone since usually my run lasts a long long time, I need every once of battery on the phone for emergency and there is just no luxury for music.
The sermon if you have guessed was on music, specially on church music (worship music). The church I attended just came out their own hymnal (song book). I haven’t gone to church for a long time, and I thought who would still use hymnals. I thought songs normal are shown on the screen.
In this corona time, I am not touching any hymnal. Who know how many other hands have touched it. I didn’t realize though until the very end of the night the pastor said, if you want to take it home, you may for this week. They are new and they are yours for free and you don’t have to bring it back next week. They will have more. I didn’t take one since I don’t go to that church often. I only go there because I miss the morning worship and they have night worship. I can’t read music any way so it does not do me any good to take a song book home. If there is a digital copy though I would have downloaded one. But it is a freaking book. They made it slim though, which is good. I have seen song books over 500 pages. This is probably a third or a fifth of that.
The whole evening message was a history (modern history) on church worship music. I am not sure the period but probably from 80’s to the present, where “CCM” came on scene and churches ditched hymns and switched to CCM (Contemporary Christian Music – and now there is a new term CWM, Contemporary Worship Music, an offshoot). It was a defense why this church now sticks to singing hymns.
I grew up around CCM. I used to go a chinese church. We had a split congregation where the traditional side would sing hymns (traditional church music) and the younger folks like me would sing the more modern sounding songs (we younger folks have the youth worship/and it was all in English). I never was able to tell the difference or reason why we were doing so. I thought just we wanted to be cool. Music is music to me. I was part of the worship team for a time too and had my say in what songs to sing. I never picked hymns. We had all kind of trainings, music, theology, etc. However, never occured to me why we were singing the songs we sang and how they came to be. It was just songs the adults side did not sing. I guess they were ‘kid’ songs. We were the first generation to have our own worship and we hired the first youth pastor at our church. So very early on we already settled with singing the modern songs over hymns. Now looking back and thinking, “what have I done!”
At this church service last Sunday, I got exposed to the whole history. I wonder what the churches used to sing before the CCM movement? I was born right into it so did not see the shift. Apparently there were Christian artists that wanted to make “Christian” music that sounds similar to secular music. There was a market for it. I grew up listening to a Christian radio station in my area. I like those music a lot. The business people wanted to expand the market to the church too to gain a bigger market. The church people also wanted the cooler songs they heard over the radio.
At the same time, there were several churches that also produced their own music. Their music caught on around the world (e.g. Hillsong from Australia).
We came to a point now almost all the churches now are playing the contempory style of music in worship.
The main argument of the night was that hymns are poems put into music and contempory music are not. Poetry has much stricter forms and so their message are more deeper. The music is transcendent. Chorus is a modern invention. CCM has iffy theology and listeners are being brainwashed (my take, the pastor didn’t say this, but that what I felt it was hinted at) – He commented that we don’t recite the apostles’ creed five times over in his sermon, we shouldn’t sing a chorus 5 times in a song. Singing a hymn is effective in conveying some very complex truths – the example of “double cure” for double inputation of righteousness was used.
Well why this long post? I haven’t brought music for a long time at least 5-6 years. The sermon prompted me to buy some. What are people singing or listening nowaday? I usually buy compilation because I am just too lazy to make my own playlist. And I realized there was not a worship CD from the WOW Hits people since 2010. Ten years!
So I was researching for a CD to buy last night. Guess what? Justin Bieber Holy is the number 1 hit in Christian music. I was doing a double take there. I have heard of Kayne West but now Bieber too! I’m not judging, but I didn’t know he makes Christian songs. I can see so many people at my church is going say, we are not singing that.
I am going back to listening to classical music 🙂