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Source: (consider it) Thread: Fuck off, popular Christian music
Albertus
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quote:
Originally posted by mr cheesy:
Yes, but it goes far far beyond that with CCM.

The musicians there are directly marketing their products to Christians on the basis that they are also Christians, not on the basis that it is nice and uplifting music.

Lousy, isn't it? 'I am a Christian. You are a Christian. Therefore, you should buy my music- never mind whether it's any good or not.'
Sod off!

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My beard is a testament to my masculinity and virility, and demonstrates that I am a real man. Trouble is, bits of quiche sometimes get caught in it.

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cliffdweller
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quote:
Originally posted by Gamaliel:
I once heard of a Greek Orthodox Church in London which didn't have a choir or anyone who could act as cantor - so they paid a Male Voice Choir from London's sizeable Welsh community to come and do the honours ...

They were given the music and the words were written out for them phonetically. So each Sunday these Welsh fellas would turn up and intone the chants using the pronunciation they were given and without the first idea what it was they were singing ...

Of course, that's an extreme example but I deploy it in the interests of balance.

If they were Christians albeit of a different tradition I wouldn't call that "more extreme"

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Gamaliel
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I suspect some of them may have been Christians but as far as I know it was a secular choir.

I've been to a Cymanfa Ganu - a Welsh hymn-singing festival - where some of the most enthusiastic participants were atheists.

I doubt if anyone vetted the religious convictions of the individual choir members in the instance I related. With a lot of Welsh choirs any connection with faith is purely cultural.

In the pub my dad frequented towards the end of his life they'd all get maudlin after a few pints and start singing 'The Old Rugged Cross' into their beer. Wales is like that. Or was ...

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mr cheesy
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Kinda doubt many men around here would know the words of hymns well enough to sing into their beer.

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overheard on a Welsh bus-stop: Jesus don't care about you, he's only interested in your soul

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Gamaliel
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They didn't know all the words but enough to get maudlin over them. My dad only knew snippets but his second wife could reel them off pretty readily. It depends on how much of a 'chapel' upbringing they had.

Blokes who sing in choirs tend to know a lot of hymns and spiritual, of course, even though most of the spectators at The Millennium Stadium can only just manage Cwm Rhondda.

But when I was a kid and into my 20s there was still a residual chapel influence. It's declined a lot in the last few decades. But no, I've heard hymns sung in pubs a few times ... As well as Delilah and the usual cliché songs.

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L'organist
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Last time I was at the Millennium Stadium the people around me knew a few more than just Cwm Rhondda: it was an evening match and many around me joined in with both Calon Lân and Ar hyd y nos: of course, it does help that the stadium has its own official choir.

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Rara temporum felicitate ubi sentire quae velis et quae sentias dicere licet

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Callan
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quote:
Originally posted by cliffdweller:
quote:
Originally posted by Gamaliel:
I once heard of a Greek Orthodox Church in London which didn't have a choir or anyone who could act as cantor - so they paid a Male Voice Choir from London's sizeable Welsh community to come and do the honours ...

They were given the music and the words were written out for them phonetically. So each Sunday these Welsh fellas would turn up and intone the chants using the pronunciation they were given and without the first idea what it was they were singing ...

Of course, that's an extreme example but I deploy it in the interests of balance.

If they were Christians albeit of a different tradition I wouldn't call that "more extreme"
If I was doing something like that I would give the Welsh fellers the English translation on the grounds that it would aid them in intonation and whatnot. And if it occurred to me I suspect it occurred them as well.

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How easy it would be to live in England, if only one did not love her. - G.K. Chesterton

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Gamaliel
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An English translation of the Greek? Or a Welsh translation of the English?

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Gamaliel
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Of course, the Welsh fellas would know English and I suspect they'd have looked up English translations of the Liturgy but even so ... I

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Let us with a gladsome mind
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http://philthebard.blogspot.com

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Callan
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English translation of the Greek on the grounds that if I were a Greek Orthodox clergyman I would be more likely to lay hands on someone who could manage this and Welsh fellers, in London, generally speak English.

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How easy it would be to live in England, if only one did not love her. - G.K. Chesterton

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Gamaliel
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Of course. But even if they did have an English translation of the Greek it's pretty bizarre ... Particularly given that the Orthodox aren't especially keen on 'The heterodox' doing stuff in their services. They don't mind you attending, joining in with the Lord's Prayer and the Creed and so on but I was told off once for helping an Orthodox friend snuff out the candles after a service with the Candlesnufferouteroximodorion or whatever they called it ... *

* Ok, I made the name up but I was reprimanded. I thought I was going to be struck down like Uzzah.

Mind you, that particular priest is something of a Liturgical fascist.

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Let us with a gladsome mind
Praise the Lord for He is kind.

http://philthebard.blogspot.com

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Nick Tamen

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quote:
Originally posted by mr cheesy:
quote:
Originally posted by Nick Tamen:


A choir should attempt to do its best because we should attempt to do our best in all of worship. But what the choir does should never be a performance for the congregation. The choir's role is to lead the congregation in making music, not to replace the congregation or to perform for it.

In practice, though, "led worship" is almost always a form of performance, which is why in low Charismatic and Evangelical settings there is such a direct cross-over between music which is made for listening to (CCM as discussed above) and music made for church.

I've been loads of times to choral services at Canterbury Cathedral, and there are significant proportions of the service which are performance by the choir. One service I recall had a setting which was supposed to sound like church bells.

Of course, there is a level at which there are at least some in the congregation who are entirely familiar with the purpose of the various parts of an Anglican (and presumably in a similar way a RCC or Orthodox) choral service and truly are using it to lead their worship. But I don't think it is any less performance for all that.

If we say that the drum-and-guitar model of church is a complete contrast, it isn't much less a performance for all that. Those playing are often on a stage with the congregation watching and participation may be not much more than singing along with their favourite track at home.

Even the great organ and hymn tradition is so often about loud noises and performance.

I don't think performance should be considered a dirty word with regard to church - and it seems to me that there is a lot of finger-pointing going on from different traditions which have exactly the same benefits and drawbacks as the thing they're criticising.

As a footnote, I know reasonably well a congregation which sings a range of songs in their church vocabulary, apparently "unled" and acapella. But it isn't any less performance for all that.

You're right, of course, mr cheesy. I was imprecise in my use of the word "performance." What I was getting at is that the purpose is not to entertain the congregation, though the congregation may certainly enjoy the music. Nor should the musicians expect the same kind of response (such as applause) as they might were they giving a concert. (That said, I'm well aware that applause can carry different meanings in different cultures and contexts. Applause can be a form of worship.) So it was really the sense of entertainment/congregation-as-audience I was getting at.

I am reminded of Kierkegaard's description of worship as performance, with the congregation as performers, clergy/choir/leaders as promoters, and God as audience.

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The first thing God says to Moses is, "Take off your shoes." We are on holy ground. Hard to believe, but the truest thing I know. — Anne Lamott

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Nick Tamen

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Ack! "Promoters" in that last sentence should be "prompters."

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The first thing God says to Moses is, "Take off your shoes." We are on holy ground. Hard to believe, but the truest thing I know. — Anne Lamott

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L'organist
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Gamaliel (and others)

This is a group from the London Welsh Male Voice Choir (sometimes with people from the London Welsh Chorale). Both choirs do regular concerts and are secular.

Its not only the orthodox who sometimes need help with singing: students from the Royal Academy have a long and noble tradition of going in to 'stiffen' other choirs and I have fond memories of student days singing in the West London Synagogue - again, phonetics was the way to go.

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Rara temporum felicitate ubi sentire quae velis et quae sentias dicere licet

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Helen-Eva
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quote:
Originally posted by L'organist:
Gamaliel (and others)

This is a group from the London Welsh Male Voice Choir (sometimes with people from the London Welsh Chorale). Both choirs do regular concerts and are secular.

*tangent* Small world - my cousin sings in the London Welsh Chorale so I've been to their concerts but I thought they were a distinctly minority interest. There doesn't seem to be any requirement to be Welsh (and certainly not to speak Welsh) but they certainly do sing in Welsh, presumably with phonetic pronunciation guides where needed.

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orfeo

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quote:
Originally posted by Lamb Chopped:
I want to know if there is anything like a biblical lament in modern Christian pop, or is it all this "you're so victorious" shit with occasional excursions into "God pulls me up when I'm feeling down."

I would like something singable to growl at God occasionally.

Apologies for not having read all the pages of the thread, but the first thing that popped into my head was the band Jars of Clay.

There is a melancholic vein to many of their songs, which I like but which I also recall because of how it upset some people who complained that they weren't sounding nearly victorious enough for a bunch of saved people.

To pick the first specific song that is running through my head, "Silence" basically asks where God is, because the singer can't hear Him right now.

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Matt Black

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When I was in my Goth phase (see avatar), there was Jack Shit around in terms of what I would term 'decent' CCM; in the words of Morrissey, "It said nothing to me about my life" of depression, anxiety etc. So a couple of like-minded and -dressed mates and I formed a band and wrote and recorded our own shit to try and pour a few drops of water into that desert - if not for anyone else, at least for ourselves. One of the results can be found here

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"Protestant and Reformed, according to the Tradition of the ancient Catholic Church" - + John Cosin (1594-1672)

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AndyHB
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Have just read through the thread from top to bottom and find the feelings expressed both sadly true and sadly false. A lot of early CCM was borne out of a combination of excitement in the discovery of the love of Christ and the depression of realising just how empty so many human lives can be. The musical style was, as one poster suggested, soft/progressive rock simply because that was the genre of music prevalent at the time. Since then, secular music has gone through a whole host of genres and CCM has followed suit - often a couple or three years behind the times. My daughters, now in their early 30s were listening to groups like POD, Skillet, World Wide Message Tribe and Deliriou5 - but even these are now deemed to be old hat, even though they addressed societal issues that were current at the time. I suppose one could argue that we are now back into the frivolous, happy-making genres of music secularly, and CCM is following suit, albeit with a variety of 'alternative' secular and CCM genres doing the rounds.

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Gamaliel
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I think creatively, everything's up for grabs these days ...

But isn't it the nature of any form of popular music - CCM or otherwise - to be fairly ephemeral?

Apart from those tracks / bands that emerge as 'classics' ...

Despite some of my curmugeonly comments upthread, I don't have an issue with people listening to this stuff or playing this stuff or going out and forming bands to perform this stuff ...

Providing you don't take it too seriously and don't think you're going to change the world simply by playing a few gigs in front of your mates ... what's the harm?

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Let us with a gladsome mind
Praise the Lord for He is kind.

http://philthebard.blogspot.com

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Matt Black

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The problem, AndyHB, is that CCM thought and thinks of your two 'conditionals' as either/ or: it failed/ fails to realise that you can be a Christian and still suffer from that depression, that 'progressive' disease, that cancer, etc. It's message to people on such states, with a few noble exceptions, is basically " Cheer up, everyone, let's have a sing-song. Isn't God marvellous!"
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Zappa
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Some bearers of the light are still out there. But I suspect the very fact that they're not Propagators of Plastic Jesus (or even flesh colored Christs that glow in the dark) means they're not considered "popular."

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shameless self promotion - because I think it's worth it
and mayhap this too: http://broken-moments.blogspot.co.nz/

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cliffdweller
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quote:
Originally posted by Matt Black:
The problem, AndyHB, is that CCM thought and thinks of your two 'conditionals' as either/ or: it failed/ fails to realise that you can be a Christian and still suffer from that depression, that 'progressive' disease, that cancer, etc. It's message to people on such states, with a few noble exceptions, is basically " Cheer up, everyone, let's have a sing-song. Isn't God marvellous!"

And you think traditional old-school hymnody (with notable exceptions) is any different in that regard?

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"Here is the world. Beautiful and terrible things will happen. Don't be afraid." -Frederick Buechner

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Gamaliel
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It depends how 'old-school'. If you're talking about popular revivalist hymns, then yes ... You're right.

But there's more to 'Old school hymnody' than that ...

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Let us with a gladsome mind
Praise the Lord for He is kind.

http://philthebard.blogspot.com

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Seedsower
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I agree there is wayyyyy too much triumphalism in today's Christian pop. Here's a thought: I d I thinkon't know if this has been done but why don't a group of talented Christians get together and put on "Job The Musical" I am not being facetious I think it could, if done right kick something new off in Christianity. Just a thought.
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Zappa
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quote:
Originally posted by cliffdweller:
quote:
Originally posted by Matt Black:
The problem, AndyHB, is that CCM thought and thinks of your two 'conditionals' as either/ or: it failed/ fails to realise that you can be a Christian and still suffer from that depression, that 'progressive' disease, that cancer, etc. It's message to people on such states, with a few noble exceptions, is basically " Cheer up, everyone, let's have a sing-song. Isn't God marvellous!"

And you think traditional old-school hymnody (with notable exceptions) is any different in that regard?
"And when human hearts are breaking under sorrow's iron rod, then they find that selfsame aching deep within the heart of God."

Not exactly yippy dippy doo dah jesus is a pink butterfly, is it?

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shameless self promotion - because I think it's worth it
and mayhap this too: http://broken-moments.blogspot.co.nz/

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stonespring
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I have heard some diversity in Christian popular music, including some I found very interesting (Christian hip hop, introspective, doubtful, and discordant songs, etc). But the Christian popular music I have heard on the radio (I do not regularly listen to Christian stations, I admit, so my experience of it is limited), has almost always been stereotypical upbeat praise and worship music. Not sure if other people's observations are similar.
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Gill H

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quote:
Originally posted by Seedsower:
I agree there is wayyyyy too much triumphalism in today's Christian pop. Here's a thought: I d I thinkon't know if this has been done but why don't a group of talented Christians get together and put on "Job The Musical" I am not being facetious I think it could, if done right kick something new off in Christianity. Just a thought.

Michael Card sort of did it (and if you want non-triumphal music with lyrical depth he's a good option). I can't remember which album it was on but he did a kind of Job mini-opera.

Martyn Joseph is good for anger, laments and just generally quality music. Certainly not CCM in style!

What about Steve Taylor?

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Gamaliel
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Is the Pope a Catholic?

As I've said upthread, these radio stations depend on sponsorship and donations. They inevitability cater to the bland, the beige, the lowest common denominator.

How can they do otherwise?

They aren't 'public service broadcasters'.

I have a friend who is a Christian DJ/radio presenter. He works for one of the UK's small number of Christian radio networks. I won't say anymore as there are so few you'd guess which one.

He enjoys his job but feels he's under more pressure to 'conform' to present the bland and the beige than he was at his previous station.

He's a CCM geek. He knows everything there is to know about CCM and then some.

That ain't difficult, it's a narrow field.

Admittedly, there's more breadth and depth there than might appear at first sight - but it doesn't tend to get air-time on the bigger commercial Christian radio stations.

It's crap.

Listen, I would like to see this thread get away from sterile 'But some old hymns were icky too ...' type arguments and even debates about worship music ...

This is more about the pap pop gunk that passes for CCM on most Christian radio outlets.

Focus, people ...

This ain't about worship songs or choruses or Psalm settings in cathedrals, it's about the gunk that plastic poppy radio stations splurge out into the airwaves.

The slurry that is mainstream CCM.

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Let us with a gladsome mind
Praise the Lord for He is kind.

http://philthebard.blogspot.com

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Baptist Trainfan
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Just a question - what about music which is Contemporary, Christian but not "popular" - I've always thought there should be a (small) place on Christian radio given over to what one might call "modern classical" music (Tavener, Part and, I'm sure, several others).

Perhaps there is, but I never listen to Christian stations as I dislike them so much!

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Gamaliel
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Martyn Joseph is great live. The guy has oodles of integrity. I wouldn't sit down and listen to his albums though.

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Let us with a gladsome mind
Praise the Lord for He is kind.

http://philthebard.blogspot.com

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Gamaliel
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That would be like saying that Radio 1 or Smooth Radio or other pop channels ought to have periods set aside for Stockhausen ...

No, Christian radio is a ghetto. It is paid for by sponsorship and donations and by advertising.

Consequently, all it is going to play is shit. It will cater to the sponsors and the donors and play them the shit they pay to listen to.

There may be some noble and notable exceptions and good for them - but I have an issue with Christian radio in the first place. Why the holy hell would I even want to listen to a Christian radio station?

I can't think of any good reason to do so.

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Let us with a gladsome mind
Praise the Lord for He is kind.

http://philthebard.blogspot.com

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mr cheesy
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quote:
Originally posted by Gamaliel:
The guy has oodles of integrity.

I know his music but don't know him personally. I've no idea how you can possibly know about his integrity unless you're a personal acquaintance, otherwise this just seems like a projection.

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overheard on a Welsh bus-stop: Jesus don't care about you, he's only interested in your soul

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Gamaliel
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Fair challenge ... but I was thinking about his performances - there's an air of 'authenticity' about him and about those ... I've met the guy a number of times and he comes across as a decent bloke.

That might be projection, but I can only go my impressions.

I attended one of his gigs with a very liberal vicar who'd looked up and listened to some of his music online and hadn't been impressed - but he thought the gig was great and thought the same as I did - that Joseph himself came across as committed and 'genuine' and someone who 'believed' in what they were doing ...

That's what I meant.

Ok, he's doing it to earn a living but I got the impression there was some grit and grind there, and what I've called 'integrity' here ...

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Praise the Lord for He is kind.

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Komensky
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Christian worship music of the pop variety is scarcely musically motivated. It's models are advertising and insipid pop music. The goals of 'worship' music are not musical goals, but pseudo-theological ones. In truth, they are working from the same script as those who write advertising jingles.

K.

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stonespring
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Secular pop music is largely insipid as well, but it seems diverse compared with the Christian pop on the radio and the worship music heard in many churches. Is this because the people making and listening to secular pop music are more diverse than the people making and listening to mainstream Christian pop music?
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Enoch
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Stonespring, it may be because it's drawing on rather a small talent pool.

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Doc Tor
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quote:
Originally posted by stonespring:
Secular pop music is largely insipid as well, but it seems diverse compared with the Christian pop on the radio and the worship music heard in many churches. Is this because the people making and listening to secular pop music are more diverse than the people making and listening to mainstream Christian pop music?

I don't think I'm going out on a limb here by saying that secular pop music sounds more diverse because the one rule of secular pop music is "does it make money?".

Whereas Christian pop music has very many more strictures, none of which are based on how good it sounds. Thus Christian pop music ends up being more crap than its secular counterpart.

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Matt Black

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quote:
Originally posted by cliffdweller:
quote:
Originally posted by Matt Black:
The problem, AndyHB, is that CCM thought and thinks of your two 'conditionals' as either/ or: it failed/ fails to realise that you can be a Christian and still suffer from that depression, that 'progressive' disease, that cancer, etc. It's message to people on such states, with a few noble exceptions, is basically " Cheer up, everyone, let's have a sing-song. Isn't God marvellous!"

And you think traditional old-school hymnody (with notable exceptions) is any different in that regard?
It's more God-centric and focuses on His attributes rather than how we (should) feel about life, as a rule.

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"Protestant and Reformed, according to the Tradition of the ancient Catholic Church" - + John Cosin (1594-1672)

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Gamaliel
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# 812

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No, I don't think you are going out on a limb at all, Doc Tor ...

And what Enoch said, too.

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Let us with a gladsome mind
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Gamaliel
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And what Matt Black said, while I'm at it ...

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Let us with a gladsome mind
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http://philthebard.blogspot.com

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cliffdweller
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quote:
Originally posted by Matt Black:
quote:
Originally posted by cliffdweller:
quote:
Originally posted by Matt Black:
The problem, AndyHB, is that CCM thought and thinks of your two 'conditionals' as either/ or: it failed/ fails to realise that you can be a Christian and still suffer from that depression, that 'progressive' disease, that cancer, etc. It's message to people on such states, with a few noble exceptions, is basically " Cheer up, everyone, let's have a sing-song. Isn't God marvellous!"

And you think traditional old-school hymnody (with notable exceptions) is any different in that regard?
It's more God-centric and focuses on His attributes rather than how we (should) feel about life, as a rule.
Stereotype. I've actually had my students do a study of lyrics of both the top 50 hymns and top 50 contemporary praise choruses (based on usage in American churches) each year looking for this exact thing, among others. No difference. There's a range among both-- some crappy lyrics, some wonderful, a lot in between. Some focused on God, some focused on community, some focused on individual experience. But the range is pretty similar among both.

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"Here is the world. Beautiful and terrible things will happen. Don't be afraid." -Frederick Buechner

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cliffdweller
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# 13338

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quote:
Originally posted by Doc Tor:
quote:
Originally posted by stonespring:
Secular pop music is largely insipid as well, but it seems diverse compared with the Christian pop on the radio and the worship music heard in many churches. Is this because the people making and listening to secular pop music are more diverse than the people making and listening to mainstream Christian pop music?

I don't think I'm going out on a limb here by saying that secular pop music sounds more diverse because the one rule of secular pop music is "does it make money?".

Whereas Christian pop music has very many more strictures, none of which are based on how good it sounds. Thus Christian pop music ends up being more crap than its secular counterpart.

Living in the heart of the music industry, I would say the motivation in both places is "does it make money?" but the marketing is different.

There are edgy, diverse Christian artists who are doing interesting and inventive things-- but they won't get marketed as "contemporary Christian pop" because their work won't sell if they do-- the constraints of the audience are such that those who are looking for "Christian pop" are looking for a specific thing, and that ain't it. The same thing happens in other genres-- look at what happened when country artists started expressing more progressive political views, for example. But within the secular music field there is an "indie" space that allows room for those outliers, including more inventive, edgier Christian artists.

As noted upthread, the dynamic is quite a bit different, though, when we're talking about contemporary Christian worship music as opposed to Contemporary Christian recording artists-- the marketing and usage being very different, as are the constraints.

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"Here is the world. Beautiful and terrible things will happen. Don't be afraid." -Frederick Buechner

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Gamaliel
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# 812

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Dare I descend to stereotyping and suggest that the results you describe for your survey might just have something to do with:

1) The location ie. the USA.

2) The particular tradition/s surveyed.

3) Confirmation bias.

I don't say this to 'defend' traditional hymns over and against contemporary worship songs and choruses but I think - as Matt Black and Zappa have indicated - that it's pretty axiomatic that - whilst there is certainly more range and variety than critics might allow - the more traditional hymns and liturgies do cover 'more ground' than the contemporary worship songs and so on do.

For a kick-off, if you're in a church which attempts to some degree to follow a Calendar or lectionary then there is at least some attempt to match the hymnody to the seasonal themes if not the lectionary readings.

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goperryrevs
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quote:
Originally posted by Gamaliel:
I don't say this to 'defend' traditional hymns over and against contemporary worship songs and choruses but I think - as Matt Black and Zappa have indicated - that it's pretty axiomatic that - whilst there is certainly more range and variety than critics might allow - the more traditional hymns and liturgies do cover 'more ground' than the contemporary worship songs and so on do.

If you're talking traditional hymns, you've got a good few hundred years to draw from. CCM, you've got a handful of decades. Pick any random hymn/song that's ever been written, and the likelihood is that you'll get something average and uninspiring. It's just a numbers game. I'd guess that the percentage of genuinely brilliant hymns and genuinely brilliant Christian pop are pretty equivalent.

I'd say your criticism of Christian radio is applicable to 'secular' radio. I don't listen to either. Both are dominated by bland music that doesn't connect with me. But hey, that's just down to my tastes. And we're all very good at pretending that our personal tastes are somehow objective and universal. They're usually not.

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cliffdweller
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# 13338

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quote:
Originally posted by Gamaliel:
Dare I descend to stereotyping and suggest that the results you describe for your survey might just have something to do with:

1) The location ie. the USA.

2) The particular tradition/s surveyed.

3) Confirmation bias.

I don't say this to 'defend' traditional hymns over and against contemporary worship songs and choruses but I think - as Matt Black and Zappa have indicated - that it's pretty axiomatic that - whilst there is certainly more range and variety than critics might allow - the more traditional hymns and liturgies do cover 'more ground' than the contemporary worship songs and so on do.

For a kick-off, if you're in a church which attempts to some degree to follow a Calendar or lectionary then there is at least some attempt to match the hymnody to the seasonal themes if not the lectionary readings.

Confirmation bias is a danger of course on both sides. But to your specific objections:

1. USA-- yes, I already disclosed that the survey was of usage within an American context, so cross-pond ymmv

2. Tradition-- the hymns/choruses we're analyzing are based on the most frequently usage within American churches of all traditions, so it should be an accurate selection for an American context.

3. Lectionary-- again, since the survey is of those used in American churches, which includes of course liturgical churches, I don't think that can be used as an explanation of the results. I do think use of a lectionary does tend to offset a number of self-selection errors, including the dearth of lament noted on this thread. But the survey suggests it's not as great an offset as the stereotype might suggest.

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"Here is the world. Beautiful and terrible things will happen. Don't be afraid." -Frederick Buechner

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cliffdweller
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quote:
Originally posted by goperryrevs:
quote:
Originally posted by Gamaliel:
I don't say this to 'defend' traditional hymns over and against contemporary worship songs and choruses but I think - as Matt Black and Zappa have indicated - that it's pretty axiomatic that - whilst there is certainly more range and variety than critics might allow - the more traditional hymns and liturgies do cover 'more ground' than the contemporary worship songs and so on do.

If you're talking traditional hymns, you've got a good few hundred years to draw from. CCM, you've got a handful of decades. Pick any random hymn/song that's ever been written, and the likelihood is that you'll get something average and uninspiring. It's just a numbers game. I'd guess that the percentage of genuinely brilliant hymns and genuinely brilliant Christian pop are pretty equivalent.

I would agree.

The thing is, the survey my students do is based on most frequent usage-- not a survey of availability. I think it is more than possible to plan a thoughtful and meaningful worship service which expresses the breadth of diverse human experience using either traditional hymns or contemporary praise songs. The thing is, at least in an American context, that doesn't seem to be happening-- either in liturgical churches or non-liturgical churches. Which suggests to me that the problem we've been discussing here-- a desire to stick to the happy-clappy praise side of faith rather than the lament side-- is more one of the human condition or at least the human experience in an individualistic, consumerist culture.


(*tangent alert*: our congregation spent Lent going thru Soong-Chan Rah's excellent book, Prophetic Lament, connecting biblical lament with contemporary issues, particularly American race relations. Excellent. *end tangent*)

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"Here is the world. Beautiful and terrible things will happen. Don't be afraid." -Frederick Buechner

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Gamaliel
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Ok. I'll buy that ... But my concern isn't simply that happy-clappy predominates over lament, say ... Rather that the whole trajectory if you like of the Christian story is being whittled down to subjectivity, 'my favourite bits' and lowest common denominator feel-good factor bilge.

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Let us with a gladsome mind
Praise the Lord for He is kind.

http://philthebard.blogspot.com

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stonespring
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I'm also resorting to stereotype here, but I sometimes think that Christian pop music won't sell unless it sounds to white, middle class, conservative parents like it is something safe for their children (and especially daughters) to listen to. Most such parents would scoff at this and be offended with being compared with racist parents afraid of the corrupting influence of "race music" on their children in the 1950s or with the fundamentalist townspeople afraid of dancing in "Footloose," but, I suspect that, on a subconscious level at least, there is still an association of music that is more pulsating than light rock with carnal desires (and all other kinds of rebelliousness).
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cliffdweller
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quote:
Originally posted by Gamaliel:
Ok. I'll buy that ... But my concern isn't simply that happy-clappy predominates over lament, say ... Rather that the whole trajectory if you like of the Christian story is being whittled down to subjectivity, 'my favourite bits' and lowest common denominator feel-good factor bilge.

Agreed, but again, I think you'll find that problem in both genres of Christian music in roughly equal measures. It has more to do with consumerism and individualism than musical style. And again I'd agree the lectionary does provide some hedge against that.

[ 18. May 2017, 21:10: Message edited by: cliffdweller ]

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"Here is the world. Beautiful and terrible things will happen. Don't be afraid." -Frederick Buechner

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SvitlanaV2
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quote:
Originally posted by Gamaliel:
The whole trajectory if you like of the Christian story is being whittled down to subjectivity, 'my favourite bits' and lowest common denominator feel-good factor bilge.

It's the 'whole trajectory' idea that I find interesting here. To whom does it refer?

The RCC remains the world's largest denomination, and is certainly not a hotbed of musical 'bilge', AFAIK. Also, most of the world's Pentecostals and charismatics aren't in the USA or the UK, and which of us knows what standards their non-Western lyrical production reaches?

If the problem is primarily a Western one then it's obvious to me that charismatic 'bilge' is merely a side issue; the bigger concern is surely that many other kinds of Christians are frequently unable to maintain their numbers, and hence their liturgical or lyrical heritage. Condemning charismatics for their bad music without addressing this issue seems to me rather pointless. If 'popular Christian music' disappears how will the lyrical heritage that's apparently withering elsewhere benefit?

Moreover, we live in a society where people value their freedom to choose. In religious terms they no longer simply accept whatever their 'religious leaders' choose to offer them. As individuals we all appreciate this freedom in our own lives, but it also means no one is under any obligation to avoid whatever some authoritative Christian figures might call 'bilge'.

I also suspect that the secularisation of Western society has made the potential 'feel-good' factor of the Christian religion more important to individuals than its other properties. After all, everything else in Christianity (including the meaning of our beautiful liturgies) now seems to be up for debate, whereas what we feel truly matters to each one of us. It's not an intellectual exercise.

And whether Christians whose liturgies or music include lamentations about the fallen world are more in tune with suffering than other kinds of Christians are is surely a debatable point.

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