Worship, Art & Business, Part 6

Worship, Art & Business, Part 6

The Reason We Sing

Worship is a proper motivation for singing Gospel music. There are only a few, if any, who would disagree.

We find references in scripture to singing as part of worship in the book of Psalms, of course, but I would like to examine 2 Chronicles 29 where Hezekiah restored worship to the temple.  Starting in verse 25, look at the variety of musicians who were tasked with providing music: cymbals, stringed instruments and harps. Show that scripture to the next person who complains about drums being in the sanctuary.

Read further to see how they were honoring the traditions for temple worship established by King David, Gad and Nathan. Show that scripture to the next person who tells you there’s no place for traditional music in modern worship.

I particularly like the way the next passage describes the worship service they had that day.

So all the assembly worshiped, the singers sang, and the trumpeters sounded; all this continued until the burnt offering was finished. And when they had finished offering, the king and all who were present with him bowed and worshiped. Moreover King Hezekiah and the leaders commanded the Levites to sing praise to the Lord with the words of David and of Asaph the seer. So they sang praises with gladness, and they bowed their heads and worshiped. – 2 Chronicles 29:28-30

If we read some of those lyrics of David and Asaph that are preserved the book of Psalms, we find that these were not dumbed-down, simplistic phrases. Remember Scott Dente’s description of many modern worship songs? He compared it to putting words on refrigerator magnets, shifting them around, and presto, another hit song.

Along with the over-simplification of worship comes the use of worship as an apology. I can’t count the number of times I’ve heard groups on stage say it doesn’t really matter how bad they sound as long as they’re doing it for the Lord. Wow.

Where did they miss where Psalm 33:3 says worship music should be played “skillfully?” Did the message in Howard B. Grose’s 1902 hymn “Give Of Your Best To The Master” not leave a lasting mark?

We are missing the width and depth of worship in much of today’s music.

The motivation should not merely be to sing songs that pay lip-service to worship. There should be an overwhelming awe….or call it a form of respectful fear.

Suppose you go to a job interview for a position that could dramatically change your financial situation. Before the time for the interview comes, you are going to rehearse and prepare to the best of your ability. And yet, there are some groups singing full-time who don’t take the time to learn to present their songs with skill or if they do, there’s seems to be a lack of enthusiasm.

In Part 7, I will conclude this series of articles with a summary of how Worship, Art and Business work together.

Until then, I’d love to hear your thoughts on Worship.

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David Bruce Murray

David Bruce Murray is a church music director in Ellenboro, NC. He is the author of Murray's Encyclopedia Of Southern Gospel Music and the owner of both SGHistory.com and MusicScribe.com. David plays piano for Southern Sounds Quartet and the Foothills Community Choir.

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  1. Reply July 22, 08:55 #1 LeviSJ

    Yes, yes, yes! Thank you for stating eloquently and succinctly what I keep trying to tell singers (in church and when out singing at multi-part-time artist events) in my timid, nonconfrontational way.

    Our pastor frequently issues a charge to the choir from 2 Chronicles 20:21, when Jehoshaphat sets the singers before the army as a sort of front-line. I imagine that would have been a hefty task to the singers to prepare the way toward the battle, and so I figure they would have been sure to sing to the best of their abilities. The pastor also says that we as singers are often in the front line of the church service; same goes for anytime an artist comes to sing for the service or performs for a crowd in any capacity wherein he/she/they are seeking to glorify God. Why not do it to the best of your ability?

  2. Reply July 22, 11:43 #2 yankeegospelgirl

    I think there’s a paucity of melodic as well as lyrical substance in many newer songs. But it may be driven by a well-intentioned misconception. That misconception is that if you dumb down a melody, it’s easier for folks to pick up and remember. I find the opposite to be true. If a melody is good, it’s memorable regardless of how many notes it has in it. Contemporary writers don’t seem to understand this, so they write these very limited, cramping, repetitive tunes, thinking this makes them more “congregational.”

    • Reply July 22, 11:53 David Bruce Murray Author

      I agree. Melodies are simpler, yes, but I’d also note that rhythms are syncopated more often than not in modern music.

      In other words, modern music is less memorable in terms of melody, yet the rhythms make it more complicated for a group of untrained singers to try to sing together.

  3. Reply July 22, 12:05 #3 Scotty Searan

    Excitability Feeling what you sing. Think of the legends that so many admired. Hovie Lister & The Statesmen Quartet knew how to convince you, they knew who they were singing about. Other groups such as the Hinsons and the Happy Goodman Family, they were exciting and you knew they knew who they were singing about. A couple of soloist that knew how to reach your heart strings; Jerry Goff, Teddy Huffam and Charles Johnson. These are a few that made you feel like you’ve been to church, not just a show.

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