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From: "REVIVAL List" <prophetic@...>
Date: Fri, 16 Dec 2005 13:26:02 -0600
ANDREW STROM:  Some people simply CANNOT understand my
stance on modern music - and its use in worshipping God. They 
say, "But you are a Holiness and Revival-type guy - so how can you
condone this awful modern music?"  Some people are completely
baffled by my stance on this. Hopefully the below piece on the
History of music in the church (from the Middle Ages onward) will 
bring a little more understanding:

by "pastorbob"

Many see this as a new problem to the church and blame it on 
the worldliness of the 'young' people or the fact that the 'old' 
people are totally out of touch with reality. The debate on just how
contemporary music should be in the church is an age old one 
which keeps reccurring. The problem is that we have not learned 
from our past. Santayana once said, "Those who cannot remember 
the past are condemned to repeat it" (Miller, 119). This, I believe,  
is the foundation of our current contemporary Christian music 
debate in our churches. 

It is the intent of this paper to show that this is not a new problem. 
I will do this by surveying the history of church music and by 
examining the beliefs and practices of the key figures in each period. 

The Medieval Period

Gregory I laid the foundation for the enlargement of the use of 
music in the church. He developed the Gregorian Chant which
modified the scales and all voices sang in unison. All musical 
instruments were banned during this time and only men were 
allowed to sing in worship.

During the end of the 14th and 15th centuries the  professionalism 
of church music developed to a much greater extent. Only 
professional choirs sang in the churches' worship services and the 
common folk were extremely limited in what musical participation 
they had. This contributed to their desire to sing religious music 
outside the church. During this period the development of the 
secular Folk Song was prominent among the commoners both 
Christian and pagan. So, taking their example from the 12th 
century troubadours men like Francis of Assisi wrote simple songs 
of devotion and praise and these sprang up as important parts of 
the religious life of the common Italian people. (McElrath, 147). 
Even back in the Middle Ages, there was the need for the people 
to sing religious songs in ways that were familiar to them. Again, 
this is not unlike the situation today. 

The Reformation

In some senses the Reformation was not only one of theological 
reform but also of musical freedom. This musical reformation 
began with John Huss (1373-1415). He opposed all polyphonic 
and instrumental music and only would support the singing of 
devotional and simple songs in unison. He stated that unison 
makes all men equal in worship. (McElrath, 151) I believe Huss 
took a step forward in the use of popular songs for the common 
people, but by rejecting the use of polyphony and instrumental 
music he took a step backward in music's overall influence on the 
church. The Bohemians, Moravians and followers of Huss put such 
an emphasis on popular  praise in music that in 1504 a hymnbook 
was published for use by the common people.

Luther, however, took a position of adapting the use of popular, 
secular tunes with the truth of  Scripture. He also believed that 
there was room in the church service for the use of instruments, 
especially the organ, polyphonic choir singing as well as 
congregational singing in the venacular. (Norman,)  Luther said, 
'To win popularity a song must be in the most simple and common 
language.' (Miller, 113)  Luther got his inspiration for his music 
from the popular German ballads of his day. The tunes were 
borrowed from German folk songs. (Leupold,196) Luther was not 
so concerned with the associations or origins of the tunes as he 
was with their ability to communicate Biblical truth. (Miller, 113)  
Luther went as far as to say ' The devil has no need of all the good 
tunes for himself.' He further stated that 'For the youth's sake we 
must read, sing, preach, write and compose verse, and whenever 
it was helpful and beneficial I would let all the bells peal, all the 
organs thunder and everything sound that could sound'. (Miller, 114) 
Luther cared only to communicate biblical truth and to set hearts
on fire for the Lord. Is this not the cry of those who support the 
use of a variety of instruments as well as musical styles in church today?

Others did not agree with Luther. Zwingli reacted against the use
of any instruments that had association with the Catholic church. 
Calvin went even farther in his opposition to Luther's 'liberal' use of 
music in worship. Calvin felt that instruments were only tolerated 
in the Old Testament because the people of God were only infants 
then. He opposed the use of instruments and the singing in parts. 
He also eliminated any lyric not found in Scripture. He allowed only 
the singing of the Psalms in worship
Two strands of church music, that which is 'sacred' resulted from
the reformation: Germany followed Luther in the singing of hymns 
and the use of instruments while England and Scotland followed 
Calvin's psalm only singing with out instruments.  John Bunyan's 
attempt to introduce hymn singing into his church resulted in a 
split and at his death in 1691 the church finally agreed to 
compromise. Those who opposed  to hymn singing could either sit 
in the vestibule or sit quietly through it until that part of the service 
was done. (kind of like what happens today during the choruses singing.)

Isaac Watts (1674-1748) returned from church and complained to 
his father that the Psalm singing was boring. His father challenged 
him to compose something better. And did he ever! He wrote over 
750 hymns and psalms and had such an impact and influence on 
hymnology that he is called the 'Father of English Hymnody'. 
(Miller, 120-121) Watts advocated the use of hymns of human
composure as opposed to Calvin's strict 'Scripture only' position.

Watts was not so readily accepted. There were those who thought 
he was placing his own human words above the Word of God. 
There were also those who felt poetry used in any sense was evil 
as it aroused the sensual pleasures of man and was too worldly to 
be used in church. Churches split, pastors were thrown out of their 
churches and many people were enraged over Watts hymns and
their use in the church.

The funny part of all this was that even though the acceptance of
Watts hymns was slow, it did happen. When hymn singing was 
fully embraced by the church in Europe as well as in the US, 
tradition set in and no other type of song should be sung in the 
churches but Watts hymns. It seems Santayana was correct once again. 

The Wesleyan Revival

John Wesley was the spiritual father of Methodism. He preached
about having a vibrant and exciting relationship with Jesus Christ. 
He was evangelistic  and highly energetic in his preaching. His 
brother Charles was the musician in the family. His hymns were 
influenced theologically by John's arminianism and the Anglican's 
churches freedom of accepting new musical and worship styles.

In relation to the Psalm singing of the old Puritan tunes, the music 
of Charles Wesley was considered  'pop' . Wesley's music is 
tuneful, with dance like  melodies which were often taken from 
improvisatory instrumental music. (McElrath, 157) Much of his 
music had secular origins and influences. He adopted new 
melodies from the popular opera and English folk melodies. (Miller,
125) Wesley had no problems mixing the secular and sacred when 
it came to writing songs to communicate a biblical message. 

Gospel Songs of the 19th Century

The gospel songs of the 19th century had it's beginnings in the
revivalist camp meetings in rural America.  The camp meeting 
songs were characterized by phrase repetition and choruses. 
(Eskew, 171) The term gospel hymn or song was popularized by 
the Moody-Sankey revivals in 1875 in England.  D.L. Moody had 
been called the greatest evangelist in the 19th century and he 
believed that singing  played a vital role in evangelism. He said: "If 
you have singing that reaches the heart, it will fill the church every
time...Music and song have not only accompanied all scriptural 
revivals, but are essential in deepening the spiritual life. Singing 
does at least as much as preaching to impress the Word of God 
upon people's minds. Ever since God first called me, the 
importance of praise expressed in song has grown upon me."
Moody realized that he needed something new as the rural camp 
songs would not reach the urban people he was targeting. So he 
found Sankey. Moody and Sankey clothed sacred songs in a style 
that was indistinguishable from popular tunes. They found that this 
enhanced the power of their ministry.

Again, not all were impressed with Moody and Sankey. The Scots 
were deeply entrenched in the Psalm singing of Calvin and had 
even rejected the wonderful hymn writing of their own Horatius 
Bonar. The Scots considered organ music to be of the devil.  
Someone once said that if Moody kept singing songs like he was 
doing, pretty soon he would have the people dancing. (Miller, 133) 
In the end, the music of Moody and Sankey was to have a 
incredible influence on the revival in Scotland and England. 

The Salvation Army and William Booth

William Booth (1829-1912) had a burden to reach the common 
people of England who were not churched. He resigned his 
position as a Methodist minister and began to work among the 
poor in London. His work eventually became known as the 
Salvation Army. Unique to Booth's music was his use of a wide 
variety of instruments: violins, viola, concertives, brass instruments,
drums and anything that would make a pleasant sound before the Lord. 

Salvationists brought their instruments together and formed
Hallelujah Bands' Not unlike the 'Praise Bands' today. Most of the 
people he wanted to reached, the unchurched, didn't know the 
church tunes popular at his day. So he took tunes from the local 
music halls. He used secular tunes and added Christian words.  
Booth wanted songs that were simple and in the language of the 
people. Songs that would stick in the minds of the people when 
they left his meetings. He saw thousands saved who never had 
never stepped foot in a traditional church.

Again, however, not all saw these innovations as positive. Many
Victorian clergymen, the press and local officials saw this type of 
music as offensive and distasteful. Others felt that the secular 
tunes would remind the people of the secular words and lead them 
to sin. This didn't happen and the songs caught on like wildfire. 
Booth made this charge to his soldiers in the band: 'Music has a 
divine effect upon divinely influenced and directed souls. Music is 
to the soul what wind is to the ship, blowing her onwards in the
direction in which she is steered...Not allowed to sing that tune or 
this tune? Indeed! Secular music, do you say? Belongs to the devil 
does it? Well, if it did, I would plunder him of it, for he has no right 
to a single note of the whole gamut. He's a thief!...Every note and 
every strain and every harmony is divine, and belongs to us...So 
now and for all time consecrate your voices and your instruments. 
Bring out your harps and organs and flutes and violins and pianos 
and drums and everything else than can make melody! Offer them 
to God and use them to make all hearts about you merry before 
the Lord.' (Miller, 136-137)

Contemporary Society
The late 1960's saw the beginning of the Jesus Movement in the 
US. This movement saw the antiestablishment of the culture 
seeping  into the church. With this came the need for a new music 
style was free from the tradition of the established church. Music 
that was more experiential and subjective and that was concerned 
with expressing how the individual felt in his relationship with God
was what was being sung during this time.  Most in the tradition 
church thought it a fad but they were mistaken.

It has not only lasted but that grown and matured to the
contemporary Christian music we have today. And  the traditional 
church is still fighting against it. Some see it as a fresh moving of 
the Holy Spirit while others see contemporary Christian music as 
a blatant compromise with the world. Not unlike what we have 
experienced throughout the history of the church.

Those in favor and support of this movement see churches utilizing 
this musical format as the fastest growing segment of the church 
today. They see innovative pastors utilize contemporary Christian 
music in their worship services, youth services and evangelistic 
outreaches all with great success.  In fact, even Billy Graham has 
utilized Christian pop singers in his crusades.

Opponents say that what appears good on the surface is a thinly 
veiled disguise of Satan trying to weaken the structure of the 
church. It shows the total lack of discernment and an embrace of 
all that's worldly by the church at large. They want a return to the 
traditional pattern of  church hymnody. Personally, I would like to 
ask them which traditional pattern of hymnody are they talking 
about, but that is another matter. 

It has not been the intent of this paper to come up with an answer 
to the contemporary Christian music  problem. It has been my 
intent, however, to make people aware that this debate has gone 
on for centuries. I hope to have shown both sides of the issue,  
that there seems to be a pattern that develops:
  1. Separation: One form of music gets firmly entrenched in the 
  2. Integration: Bold, creative innovators who are convinced that 
the old forms are outdated and not meeting the peoples needs 
come up with new forms of music that are culturally relevant to the 
common people.
  3. Conflict: At this point, there is a charge from the traditionalists
that this new form of music is contaminated by the world and is a 
compromise to it.
  4. Renewal:  Although music is not the only force in the change, 
it is a strong and powerful one. This part sees the acceptance of 
the new music and the church music is finally once again in the
language and style of the common people.
  5. Traditionalized: The music which was once new and fresh 
becomes standard and traditional and put in the hymnbook and is 
now considered sacred. 

During this time the popular style of the people is rapidly changing 
and the pattern reverts back to step #1.  The cycle begins again.  

We need to learn from history so that we will not continue to repeat 
it. The church is in the world and therefore it's message must be 
culturally relevant. We removed the old English from the King 
James, we removed Latin from the service, yet we are tied down by 
the weight of traditional hymnody.

We need to be like William Booth and reclaim music for the 
Church! We need to be like Luther and say that the devil should 
not have all the good tunes!

SOURCE: http://mywebpages.comcast.net/pastorbob/theologicalpapers/