Even though I am not an historian of music

This morning in church, the song leader gave a short story about how the next hymn was commissioned especially for the book, a brief picture of what the author was trying to say, how the harmony part seems to come in a bit later.

Times like this is what I appreciate about this particular congregation and how much thought and care go into an experience for worship.

Call me old-fashioned, (a label I wear proudly) but I think a church rich with history is in a good position to help with education.  Having the song leader ad lib a bit about a writer adds quality.  Holding a hymnbook and having the music notes pointed out along the page is helpful, even though I don’t actually “read” sheet music, I know about the lines and spaces and how many beats to hold my breath.  In my youth, I participated in choirs.

This brought to mind my experience for the Sunday morning church service over Memorial Day weekend in my home town.  My brother-in-law told me outright that he prefers the first service at 8am because it is a bit more old style, and they do use the hymnbooks.

However, my mother and youngest sister go to the main service at 10am.
Because of my visit, we all went to the second service.
Later, folks would tell my mom that it looked good to have so many of her family sitting together in the pew.

The latter service has what is commonly known as a Praise Band.  The members play drums, a baby grand piano, guitar, bass, drums.  I have to say drums twice because that is pretty much what I heard most.

The words to the songs are projected up on a screen at the front of the auditorium.  It looked like light gray letters on a dark gray background.
Since I need new glasses, I couldn’t make out some of the words if the lettering font wasn’t crisp and clean.

The song leader was a girl in late adolescence.  That a female was on stage was one step in a modern direction, because when I was growing up there, women did not lead, nor read for any part of, the services.  Although the organist was often a woman.

This was all fine for the regular attendees, those who know the tunes and apparently sing them often.  I did know the words to the patriotic songs, done in honor of the holiday.

However, being unable to read many of the words from that distance, not being able to see sheet music to guess the next note, having a leader who didn’t conduct very well,  uumm, I didn’t sing much during the service.

The praise band didn’t seem to mind.
It kept the beat going even when the song leader missed a cue.

The girl cat is between me and the screen.

Must open can of food.

Now where was I?

Oh yeah, talking about helps and hindrances for song in church services.

Now my mind is all ajumbled, so I will just say that I appreciated the music of today’s service.
We even sang all together for a prayer to begin the luncheon.

And I am humming a tune as I load the dishwasher.

~~love and Huggs, Diane

The kiss of the sun for pardon,
The song of the birds for mirth,
One is nearer God’s heart in a garden
Than anywhere else on earth.

~~Dorothy Frances Gurney  “Garden Thoughts”

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4 Responses to Even though I am not an historian of music

  1. George says:

    Before the distraction by the cat, you were going to post something about how women are second-class citizens there, but the pastors’ wives contributed something the pastors could not. But I will leave that punch line to you – it deserves a post of its own.

  2. Sharkey says:

    Maybe you intended to continue and talk about women in the church, but I think you have plenty of content in this post.

    We don’t often think about it, but one of the best things about the old hymns is how they connect us to other worshipers through the ages. Those who came hundreds of years before us sang some of the same hymns that we sing today. I think that’s one of the things we’re losing as more and more churches incorporate praise bands. More people are going to the contemporary services, and I think we’re losing that sense of history. Our pastor is aware of it, and even the contemporary folks have to sing “A Mighty Fortress is Our God” every now and then. He says he isn’t doing his job if kids “graduate” from the congregation without learning that hymn.

    The ELCA released a new worship book/hymnal in the last year or so, and even the traditional hymns have been “dumbed down.” Instead of showing the four-part harmony, it’s just the simple melody line. Even the current hymnal is dumbed down from the previous one. I think it reflects how music technology and society have progressed over time. Years ago, if you wanted music, you got together with your friends and family and made it yourselves. Now when people want music, they just plug in their iPods.

    Okay, okay–enough of the soapbox! Good post, Diane!

  3. Count me in with the traditional services as well. I don’t care much for the praise bands and such. I like piano and the old songs. I don’t even particularly care for an organ in song service. Seems too much like funeral music to me.

    And I’m Southern Baptist, by the way.

    Hope your new week is blessed and that you’re enjoying your Summer off work, Diane. 🙂

    Love and hugs,

    The Other Diane

  4. momma says:

    George has me curious now what is the thing pastors’ wives contribute?