The Christian Century wonders about the current state of church music in Church music after the worship wars, music and identity at four congregations:
Decades after the first time an organ console was unplugged to make way for a guitar amp, the worship wars rage on. Nine years after Tom Long, in Beyond the Worship Wars, prescribed excellence across a range of musical styles, worship planners still find themselves talking about the relative merits of exactly two. There’s either the densely theological hymn by Wesley or Luther (gobs of words sung over gobs of chords) or the vapid pop-rock song by some cool young person (maybe five words over three chords).
It’s a stark difference, and it doesn’t offer battleground churches a great set of options. A worship service should be cohesive, aesthetically pleasing and broadly inclusive. Worship that juxtaposes hymns with praise choruses is often a jarring, bipolar experience. And congregations that segregate by musical taste, creating separate services according to style, end up reducing diversity to an abstraction, reflected only on the membership roll.
Fortunately, these options are false ones. Church music is wonderfully diverse. Centuries of hymnody don’t constitute a single style; neither, for that matter, do decades of praise choruses. And in which category would we put new classical hymns, old gospel hymns, black spirituals, Taizé chants or the folkie liturgical music borrowed from late-20th-century American Catholics? Then there’s the minor matter of music from parts of the world that aren’t dominated by white people. This wealth of music—and the fact that neither the organ people nor the praise-band people own it—offers rich possibilities for defusing the worship wars.
Read about 4 congregations making music here.
How is the music at your church?