In preparation for an address I recently gave to the Church Music Publishers Association, my research led me to a paper presented by Robert Shaw to the Fountain Street Baptist Church in October, 1961. When I gave my address to CMPA, I mistakenly said the church was in Cleveland. Ken Medema was in the audience and was kind to correct me–the church is in Grand Rapids, and Ken enthusiastically told me, “I was there!”
The following are remarks from Shaw’s address regarding the purpose of music in worship. “Music in Worship” is one of the fourteen Repertoire & Standards (R&S) areas of ACDA’s work.Shaw’s typed address was sixteen single-spaced pages. The following are his conclusions:
“We shall propose concerning our music that nothing but the best is good enough.”
Shaw then offered four criteria in defining “best”:
1) Motivation, or the purity of purpose;
3) Historical perspective;
4) The art must embody revelation.
And then his address contains these concluding words:
“Nothing which has stirred the heart and mind of mankind to the consideration and creation of worth-in whatever time or place-can be foreign to worship. Wherever the word has been made flesh-in Beethoven or Shakespeare-it should be made welcome in our worship.
“We propose that music, shall be as worthy an act of worship as the spoken word, our occasional part in it and our response to it.”
“For finally it is our desire to create for a certain period each week, out of worthy things, a wholeness of beauty and truth, an integrity of sound and sight and reason, which shall be its own reason for being and our reason for being there.” (Robert Shaw 1961)