A Twisted Crown of Thorns ®

Reformed. Christianity. Evangelism. Modern Culture.

Your Guide to Contemporary Christian Music

By Dale Peterson, The Wittenburg Door For Full Article.

Christian music guide

Thank you for choosing to worship with us today. If you are from a church that uses traditional hymns, you may be confused. Please take a moment to read through this guide to contemporary Christian music.

In our church you will not hear “How Great Thou Art,” “Wonderful Grace of Jesus,” or “Like a River Glorious.” (Generally, hymns that have words like “Thou” are not used. They are too archaic and are normally replaced by words

like “awesome” and “miry clay”). Yes, okay, we may do “Amazing Grace” or “Peace Like a River” at some point, but as a general rule we avoid songs with too many different verses or those that can’t be played easily on guitar and drums.

If you are new to worship here, you may wish to know the reasons for this. One is that deep theological concepts do not belong in contemporary Christian worship. We frown on songs that change more than one or two words for each verse. For example, our version of “Holy is the Lord” consists of repeating that phrase six times per verse and then changing

“Holy” to “Worthy,” “Mighty,” “Jesus” and finally changing “the” to “my.” Isn’t that much simpler to sing and easier to remember? The twin goals here are a) repetition and b) chanting quality. We don’t focus on what we’re singing, but how we’re singing it. The main thing is to get that kind of tingly, “olive oily” feeling. Don’t worry if you don’t get this right away. It will come as you learn to disengage your intellect. Just free yourself. Immerse yourself. Relax.

Nevertheless, a traditional hymn may sometimes be used. For example, we’re not averse to “Holy, Holy, Holy.” You may be tempted to sing this as you would have in your former church, but please note that it is sung here with changes, mainly the fact that we repeat it several times and try to sing as slowly as possible, thereby emphasizing the funereal nature of the verse.

Repetition is very important in contemporary Christian music. We repeat: Repetition is very important in contemporary Christian music. Just because a song may have one verse and one chorus does not mean that you only sing it through once. Old hymns have several verses, each of which introduces a new theological concept, and are meant to be sung once followed by “Amen.” This is no longer how it’s done. The correct procedure is to sing the identical verse and chorus at least three times. Often it is preferable to repeat the verse two times initially before moving on to the chorus.

Also the worship leader may want to repeat a verse or chorus found in the middle of the song. This is signaled by “calling an audible.” When this occurs, the worship leader will say the first few words of the verse or chorus he will be singing next. Sometimes, due to the similarity of the verses, this may be confusing and the overhead projector may flash several pages of text until the correct one is arrived at. Don’t panic, this is normal. Just continue singing as though you know the words and soon either the correct slide will appear or a new chorus will begin.

After the verse and chorus are sung at least three times, it is permissible for the song to end. However, the chorus must first be repeated in its entirety, then the last paragraph, then the last line. When singing the last line it is important to slow down a little and look upward. Raising a hand is permissible and often done at this time. This may take a little getting used to but don’t worry, if you just join in, in a short time you won’t even notice and soon you will forget that you ever did it any other way.

We are just really glad you chose to share the worship experience with us today. Thank you and we hope to see you again soon.

Thank you and we hope to see you again soon. Thank you. Thank.

Editor’s Note: “If we do not preach about sin and God’s judgment on it, we cannot present Christ as Saviour from sin and the wrath of God. And if we are silent about these things, and preach a Christ who saves only from self and the sorrows of this world, we are not preaching the Christ of the Bible . . . Such preaching may soothe some, but it will help nobody; for a Christ who is not seen and sought as a Saviour from sin will not be found to save from self or from anything else”

4 responses to “Your Guide to Contemporary Christian Music

  1. Born4Battle March 25, 2010 at 10:00

    I cringe when a good hym is actually used and an extra little line/chorus is added somewhwhere that is devoid of the rich theology of the text of the hymn itself.

  2. 2012 end of the world March 28, 2010 at 13:52

    Good article. thank you

  3. Beth December 30, 2010 at 16:11

    I love the old hymns – but when they were written, they were set to pub tunes – the contemporary music of the time. They were the praise and worship music of their day. Saying that God is only honored by our very white, very western, pipe organ, strict 4/4 time, King James inspired style is extrabibilical! My big frustration with the hymn format is that it breaks up sentences into choppy phrases. A verse will often be just one long, run-on sentence, but we pause for breath at the end of each line. Thus, most people never understand that “a bulwark never fading” in line two is descriptive of the “mighty fortress” from line one. By altering the tune and meter of that great hymn and providing different places to breathe, we can put those phrases back together into a full sentence structure and actually understand the doctrine we’re singing. And repetition? People learn by repetition. I don’t mean we should just randomly chant – but repetiton is used extensively in scripture for emphasis. Worship should not be a “show” or an “emotional” experience. Worship is not be about our own likes and dislikes. But the condition of our hearts can be very wrong wheather we’re singing the ancient hymns or the most modern of choruses. We need to guard against a felt need to be “relevent” but it’s just as great a sin to be smugly legalistic.

  4. Beth December 30, 2010 at 16:25

    sorry – just re-read my above post. The bulwark is never “failing”, not “fading”. It also never fades, but that’s beside the point . . . 🙂

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