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Proliferation of excessive excess

(Note: This is just something I've wanted to say for a long time, and I hope to inspire thought )
What each place of worship must decide is how they want to promote the word of God.
But on reflection of experience one has to think that music has become an unhealthy obsession
Although its nice to hear great quality music, if that was the driving factor of a person attending a church, they may as well book tickets to see a music show.
There is proliferating, a culture where attention must be grabbed by the performer and not offered humbly by the listener with content of ideas carefully considered by the speaker. after all life is not a musical.
There are many people of worship in Scotland, and who travel from North America and Canada, who have been professionally trained in music either by their place of worship, musically oriented schools or scholarships. They can play 5 different instruments with anything from Mozart to Rihanna to John Cage's 4,33 and will generously share with the congregation. They will wax lyrical about the deep meaning rooted within their graft but to what end is  all this? It doesnt really serve the congregation in steering them to what matters, its self promotion. x factor style.
It would be nice to be part of a congregation where music plays no part. That actively doing things which benefit communities, volunteering at homeless centres, offering to help drug addicts, spending time caring for the sick, helping building houses for people in need takes centre stage. Not bigger and better choirs
It would be nice to keep the luxury of being pedantic about music and the ability to pitch perfect a tune in 3 octaves in leisure time and not as part of worship.
Replies (41): Threaded | Chronological
on July 23, 2013 3:07pm
Note: Great Replys, some thoughts, 
Tim Knight - Robed choir - needless expense, people should be dressed as they are naturally
Singers paid or unpaid its also a matter of time and effort
It's not so much a sweeping generalisation of musicians, rather those using their time served talents in relation to the church
And again if the churches would be emptier without the music and choirs, let those people leave to return for something better
Garrett Lathe, People of current congregations over generations have gotten used to the status quo of music and song, one unrehearsed simple
 accapella song leading the congregation at the end of a weekly service is more than enough. This would make the song and meaning more special.
Donald Patriquin
I do reckon that quite a few people currently indoctrinated into the choir culture may be steered to something different given the option. But certainly a take 
on those who encourage it in the church with professional zeal.
I believe that our inspiration to do good deeds should come from effects of those good deeds on others and not to reward ourselves with song. I wouldnt 
encourage a world without art/beauty/music or God forgive children. Singing in the church isn't necessary  and neither colossal works of architecture whose 
cultures are intrinsically linked -the high ceilings meant to echo symbollically carrying voices higher to God.(This touches upon another issue of fundings
misplaced sustaining them which I wont digress here)
Doing good deeds shouldn't feel like being in the trenches, and if anything people can sing while they work if normal food doesnt sustain their desire.
And in the metaphoric sense of smelling the roses, I would be of the opinion of preferring members of the congregation spending 5 minutes sing while outside pruning or planting or learning to take care of roses.
Ronald Richard DUquette
I think it shows that there is so much happening on the music and song front through the years it would give good cause to get rid of it
Charles Livesay
Your personal story is interesting. I think the conflict of interest of people supporting the church financially being dictatorily involved with 
choirs shows what emotion evoked by music and choirs can do. Sure it can make people feel good, but like all emotion bending phenomenon, its high 
is addictive and if not delivered the way its needed, people will abandon their friends, the sick and their trips to help the poor
This brings me neatly to the revolution of simplicity
Jesus was a carpenter.
Adam and Eve Lived in the Garden of Eden

Instead of choir of activities, which do attract financial aid from members, better to eradicate the music and song in favor of furthering interests
in farming and building in young people. This would engage them with skills in employment as well as giving them abilities to tangibly help people.
If you could substitute every professinal and non profession choir and music persons skills, paid and volunteer all through  North America, Canada and the UK
with Professional and volunteer builders and farmers associated ethically with church principles we could change the world for good and sing while we work.
Inspiration: The Many pointless hours sitting singing helplessly along thinking, lets do something useful!
Message: That serious consideration is given by choirs in (un)intentional aggressive promotion of activity particularly among young people. And that some leaders of choir persuasion may take influence and inspiration, re-route and redirect their flock to alternative possibilities than choral excellence.
on July 24, 2013 12:28am
Do you know, I was going to let off steam, rise to the bait and defend the choral corner, but do you know what, when I read a sentence such as 'I do reckon that quite a few people currently indoctrinated into the choir culture may be steered to something different given the option' and 'If you could substitute every professinal and non profession choir and music persons skills, paid and volunteer all through North America, Canada and the UK with Professional and volunteer builders and farmers associated ethically with church principles we could change the world for good and sing while we work, i realsed there was no point, Choir could be substituted in these sentences for Football club, cycling team, whatever the Interest is!!
Not sure Jane, with the greatest of respect, why you think a Choral related site would contain people who would subscribe to the 'lets get rid of it' view that you mention, but I for one will continue to praise God in the words of Psalm 150 and reflect on the years I spent in  a Cathedral choir as a boy,  which I have to thank for my appreciation of Art, my understanding of the importance of helping others, my ability to sing and also my interest in , though in this case profound disagreement of, other peoples opininons
Applauded by an audience of 9
on July 24, 2013 6:39am
Jane - Your reply to our replies brings up the following thoughts.
1.  Were we, in fact, to follow your prescriptions about the place of music (none, or so little as to be effectively reduced to nothing), then you would have many people who wouldn't otherwise be drawn to the worship of God being utterly unserviced and disconnected.  I remind my choir(s) all the time, that their purpose is to help one person take one step closer to God.  For those persons for whom music is the possible step closer to God, would you have them thus unserved?  If your answer is "yes," where is the Christian charity in that?  And if your last "inspiration" point was the motivation for your original posting, for God's (and your own sake) why do you stay?  Is it in the vain hope that something will change if you keep addressing the issue?  I'm sorry, but you have more than 2 millennia of tradition and history working against you - and even, as Clay points out below, Biblical injunction.  Either you buy the Bible or you don't - and if you hit me with "well, it's metaphoric in much of its message," then all the more reason to seek out other "metaphorical" ways of approaching the Lord - and not being so anxious to deny it to the rest of humanity.
2.  If the state of music in worship disturbs you so mightily as it appears it does, then seek out the congregation that comes closest to your state - but please don't ask or expect the rest of the world to follow you.  Set the example, and see what happens.  Even your example of Christ being a carpenter as some sort of rationalization of a minimalist musical expression is so entirely unhistorical (remember the Gospel reading that says that after singing psalms and sacred songs at the end of the Last Supper, they went to the Mount of Olives) as to be useless as an example or even an exhortation to the rest of us to abandon our worldly love - which it isn't, incidentally, at least not in all instances.  Oh, and if you're going to say that there weren't guitars and strings and robed choirs - sure; but David danced before the Ark with timbrel, lyre and harp, and the sound of the shofar.  And he wasn't stricken down by a wrathful God for his use of them (and that's when God really COULD be wrathful, wasn't it?).
3.  As thought-provoking as this thread has been, did you REALLY think that posting this in a place which is dedicated to musicians was going to get us all to say, "Oh, right; we've been such damned fools and self-centered idiots for all these centuries," such as to suddenly turn the world around?  I believe that many of us who have posted DO believe that you have some valid points; but the truth is, that many of your defenses in your "reply to our replies" have truly made me wonder what's behind your plaint.  You want us to return to the world of Jesus, and even perhaps Adam and Eve.  Well, with the introduction of the original sin (yes, I am Catholic and I know there are many who don't believe in this, but it's a useful metaphor for the introduction of evil) the world did not remain static, nor could it return to its original state, save after death.  In addition, Christ Himself anticipated the need for a prolongation of His message over time - and the consequent likely complication of the method of delivering his message, because of His use of imperfect humanity to promote His perfect message - in that He had disciples, apostles, men and women who were His followers - and so even a return to the supposed "primitive" Church is not only unrealistic, but unbelievable in the context of what Christ was doing.  So please, if you yourself can find the means and method to return to this desired "primitiveness" in the Church, by all means do so.  As a chaplain I met in Ft. Huachuca, AZ had told me once, the most perfect music he'd ever heard was in silence and the wind. (He had been a missionary to some of the native peoples in the southwest US.)  Fine, Father; then go to the nearest hilltop in the desert and listen for silence and the wind.  The rest of us, poor benighted fools that we are, prefer to listen to the glories of human expression in the service of God in the form of music, and for some of us, may very well find God therein.  If there is a community that believes as you do, don't walk, RUN to it.  But the rest of us not only need not go down that path, but if we were to, we might very well find the Devil at the end of it.
I will, however, comment that personally, I will keep in mind some of the points you've made, and in a constant "examination of conscience" as a musical leader in my church, review what we do and try as best we can to insure that we do not engage in an excess of excess.  But I won't stop worshiping God by my music.
Applauded by an audience of 8
on July 26, 2013 9:33am
Jane I agree that many choirs have gone way too far into production that can distract greatly from the subtile sweet whisper of the spirit that touches the heart.  The idea of completely getting rid of the music goes against the spirit just as much. I can think of many examples of music soothing a troubled soul, right from the babes in arms to the prisons.  In  the same light a minister that rants and raves and pounds the podium, can be equally distracting, and down right frighteneing to some. I believe that there needs to be an equal balance given to both. This gives the spirit and soul "Food and Water" leaving it nourished for a long time.    I must share one small example: At a recent meeting of worship I sat behind a young boy who was clearly handicap. The sermon had no visible effect on him. When it came to congregational singing the young boy sang with such enthusiasm that most of the congregation stopped singing and just listened to him. There was not a dry eye and we all left completely fed. I do not remember the sermon but my eyes still fill with tears thinking of this young boy. Amen to meaningful worship through both music and the spoken word, balanced equally.
Applauded by an audience of 1
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