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“I am a Canadian, free to speak without fear, free to worship in my own way, free to stand for what I think right, free to oppose what I believe wrong, or free to choose those who shall govern my country. This heritage of freedom I pledge to uphold for myself and all mankind.” ~~ John G. Diefenbaker

Christian Rock … the first Sally Ann Bands … Lutes and Lyres … Pipe Organs … and Lay Me Down

Christian Rock … the first Sally Ann Bands … Lutes and Lyres … Pipe Organs … and Lay Me Down.  That’s a strange start to a blog post isn’t it.

Is it generational?  I think it is.  From one generation to the next, going back decades, the current generation, in my opinion, thinks the music of the next generation is just plain bad.  Now this doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with age, but more where an individual happens to feel they fit.

For example, I am now in my 60s (YIKES) and yet there have only been a few times when I have thought, and said, “What on earth are they thinking – that stuff’s crap?” (ie: Disco, gansta rap, thrash rock) … other than that, I pretty much enjoy and appreciate anything that comes out.

That said, I had an interesting online conversation earlier today with a friend (thanks again to my online friends who become the seeds for a blog post)

The church I attend, Gateway City Church in Kamloops, is hosting a worship night of music tomorrow evening with Jon Neufeld of Starfield.  I let several friends know about it, which led to one (who is probably at least 25 years younger than me to respond, setting up the following conversation:

Hi Alan. You're church is hosting a Christian rock band? 

It's a night of worship ... and it's just Jon Neufeld of Starfield that will be joining members of our worship team 

Okay.  "Christian rock", the two words in the term are mutually exclusive.  It's sad that the Christian community doesn't see anything wrong with the term. 

I don't see they have to be exclusive at all. It is just another form / genre of music. What should qualify (worship) music -- period --- is the lyrical content. Does it give Praise to God ... does it evoke a call to glorify Him. Music is music ... and while there are certain forms I would really rather not listen to, that does not, in my opinion mean they cannot be used to draw the lost to Him ... nor the believers to glorify Him 

Well, in my opinion, I think churches have adopted the world's standards for music to accommodate unbelievers. We've "christened" the world's music style and methodology. Church worship teams/band look more like secular bands than anything resembling a Christian church.

The church has always adopted styles of music popular at the time. Look at the early Salvation Army bands as a classic example. They went out and took pub songs of the time, rewrote the words, and created beautiful lyrical worship to God. 

Look back to early biblical times and what instruments did they use then? The lute, harps, horns etc. Do we still use them now ... or would they create music relevant to today's non-believers?  In most cases I would say no. There are MANY great songs and hymns from the past that still hold, and stir, the hearts of believers, and call to the crying and lost of today. Just as then however, believers are still creating music, with instruments (and styles) that evokes the same things. Praise God.  

Well, I disagree about the Salvation Army being a good example of music.  I don't understand why they have positions such as 'captain' or whatever. Nothing like that in scripture.  With all due respect, lyrics are not the only thing that qualifies music. A church can have traditional lyrics with heavy metal-style rhythm.  I guess we have to agree to disagree.

And yes I agree that lyrics are not the only thing that qualifies music. That said, all music resonates with distinct and often varying people. For example, you couldn’t pay me to listen to opera or free-form jazz. That however, does not mean it does not qualify as music. It's just a style I prefer not to listen to.  Bottom line, I'll let God decide what is in the hearts of those who write, record and perform whatever styles of "Christian" music. It's not for me to decide on whether it is right or wrong.

I’ve also had this conversation, on numerous occasions, with a Christian friend who is in his 80s’.  He as well does not believe that most of today’s contemporary, or rock, style of music can be considered as Christian. We’ve also had the conversation about what can be used as instruments for worship music.  My side of the coin has been that performers of hymns, songs of praise and worship, folk singers, and rock musicians have simply used the instruments available for that generation.

That’s one discussion that we have both had to disagree on, and yet thankfully still remain friends.

That said, can our strongly held beliefs about a style of music, cloud our judgment?  I ask that because this same friend has, from the time it came out, disliked the song “Lay Me Down” by Chris Tomlin.  

Why?  Because a certain part of the lyrics have created a barrier for him.  “Lay me down … Lay me Down … Lay Me Down” is all he can hear.  “It sounds like a wife taking to her husband”, he said to me.  I said to him, “You are just taking one part of the lyrics, and taking them out of context”

I then said to him, “Tell me what you think about these lyrics”:

Verse 1:

With this heart open wide
From the depths from the heights
I will bring a sacrifice
With these hands lifted high
Hear my song, hear my cry
I will bring a sacrifice, I will bring a sacrifice

Verse 2:
Letting go of my pride
Giving up all my rights
Take this life and let it shine
Take this life and let it shine

It will be my joy to say Your will Your way
It will be my joy to say Your will Your way
It will be my joy to say Your will Your way always

"Yah … that’s good", he said.

So I responded, “So, do you know that is part of the same song you have told me isn’t something that should be sung in church as a worship song?”

He said he did not – and we still disagree about that particular song.  Here by the way are the lyrics of the Chorus (my bold font):

I lay me down I’m not my own
I belong to you alone
Lay me down, lay me down
Hand on my heart this much is true
There’s no life apart from you
Lay me down, lay me down
Lay me down, lay me down

Humankind is diverse, we are all unique, and no two of us are the same; thank goodness.  I guess that’s why all of us will have things we agree with … things we are unsure about … and some things we will strongly disagree with -- even with friends.  It certainly makes for some interesting conversations, as long as we can be respectful.
Till next time, I’m Alan Forseth in Kamloops, and that’s where I’m at today.  I hope you’ve had, or are having, a great Thanksgiving weekend.

UPDATE ... it was a great concert last night (Oct 13th), and I am sure that many of the young people were touched, in a very positive way, by the words spoken, and the songs sung.  Here are just a few of the photos I took:


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