Monday, September 18, 2006

7-Eleven Hymns of the Modern Church

I have two churches that I enjoy tending in this area, but I will have to choose, eventually. Both are modern with fun music and live bands. Both are casual and both preach using the Bible. In my case, I prefer a church that uses the Bible, although there are many churches that don't (or use another manuscript altogether).

However, I still have reservations. Neither church uses a hymnal. That can be fun, at first, but all they play are 7-Eleven songs (as my mother points out). A 7-Eleven song is a song that has 7 choruses which you repeat 11 times. In other words, we're talking sheer monotony here.

There is something to be said for monotonous songs. They put the participants in a trancelike mood and make them more malleable. They're popular in pagan religions and in many churches, too. But when a song is stripped of meaning, and you're left singing repeatedly about how great God is, you are left with something which is in danger of being completely useless. It adds nothing of worth to the ceremony or the worshipper's experience. Just because a song is catchy, doesn't mean that it's a keeper.

My ideal church would have a mixture of some of the old standards and some of the new songs. At the very least, it would have hymnals that contain the musical score for the new songs so that we wouldn't have to warble helplessly along in the vain hope that we might occasionally hit the proper note.

Singing in the modern church becomes a guessing game. As you sing along, you will likely lose the meaning of the words as you desperately try to second guess where the song is going. You are in a constant state of suspense: Did the song writer intend this line to end in a "C"? Let's try it! Oops, I'm the only one that sang it in a "C". Everyone else sang it in the note of "D". Don't *I* feel like an idiot? Maybe I shouldn't sing at all! I'll just nod and clap along with everyone else.

I took a Catholic friend to a church service recently. He thought it amusingly eccentric. He didn't ask to go back. I think it had to do with the music leader telling us all to hop to the left and the right during one of the songs. I had never seen that before. I must admit, it was fun. But was it appropriate for a Sunday morning service?

Ah well, at least no one was rolling in the aisles or frothing at the mouth. That would be quite entertaining. With any luck, they'll save that for the time I invite another guest to go with me. It's always refreshing to admit that your church is completely unpredictable. Isn't it?

Isn't it?

Maybe I need to start my own church.


Ted said...

Starting your own church seems the best way to go until other people start attending. Then it will have the same problems as every other church. But at least you can pick the color of the carpet and what translation of Bible and hymnal.

Grant said...

I worry when the service reaches the point where people start dancing around with the poisonous snakes. When that comes, switch to another church.

Edge said...

I'm with you. I like a mix of old and new. Remember the old hymns were "new" once. Actually borrowed from pub house drinking songs so people could learn them. I won't stay at a church that doesn't preach Jesus from Holy Scripture. If you don't you might as well preach the teletubbies from Steinbeck's Grapes of Wrath.

KristieD said...

i am not one who goes to church personally, but i agree that a church that is a little unpredictable would be more fun. Its better than always doing the same thing. And i never worried if i was singing right, i just sang along at my own tune!

Old Man Rich said...

As a non practicing agnostic I don't church very often. (apart from architectural reasons). But when I do I want a hymn I can belt out. One they forced on me in school. One I know and love. One I can raise the rafters to, without reading the book. And the fact that my singing is crap? well, God will probably forgive me for that. As one vicar told me, God doesn't want piety, or even tunefullness. He just wants volume.

Lee Ann said...

I think it is great that you are looking for a church that fits you.
I think the Catholic friend is most likely a bit like me (Episcopal) where we are used to the very traditional style.
I love going to different churches, I find it very interesting!

FruitfulSpirit said...

I miss the singing part the most. We had a small choir in our last church but they sang old hymns and new songs. We even got newer hymnals to go with the older ones. It was fun to shake things up. Of course our last pastor sang like Elvis and it was entertaining at times. I love the older songs but do love the beat of the newer ones!

Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Hop to the left, then to the right? What's next, the "Hokey Pokey"?

I suppose the minister could claim mass conversions when everybody turns themselves around.

And that's what it all about!

Jeffery Hodges

* * *

The Lazy Iguana said...

Lets start a church! I have been thinking about this for a while now.

My plan is to revive the worship of the Roman/Greek God of Food and Wine. It is fool proof plan! The Government can not claim it is a "cult" like Scientoligy because I am not making anything up. It was all made up three or four thousand years ago. Or more. Who knows.

And now for the BEST PART! Being the God of Food and Wine, services would include an open buffet and open bar. And I would be able to buy stuff for the bar tax free! Followers would be able to write off bar tabs and resturant bills!

Just think about it. Get back to me later. You have the email address :)

Aunt Jo said...

I have my eye on a sweet keyboard player in my church. ;o)

I love our music and it speaks to me and prepares my heart for the message of the day. We have a great variety of music and it is fun to sing along and worship God in what ever way we want.

Underground Logician said...

I can offer a suggestion, though it may ruffle feathers (me ruffle feathers? NAH!) I think it is a temptation to draw people by using entertainment; it distracts us from the real reason why we attend church--worship.

I used to be a protestant minister and actually used some very unorthodox techniques to pique the interest of people. Deep down, it was nothing short of me manipulating others to come and hear me. This may not be the intent of other pastors, but the effects on the people are the same, regardless of the intent. If people come to be entertained, a pastor must continue the entertainment, plus, improve the entertainment or the dreaded "boredom" sets in (pastors' worst enemy). If this happens, the previously entertained "troops" look for better Sunday venues to cure their boredom.

I will make one plug for the Catholic Mass and then shut up...for now! The Mass is nothing short of the Re-presentation of the sacrifice Jesus at Calvary. Jesus, as the Lamb, the greatest act of love towards God in the universe, is offered to the Father, united with ourselves, as an act of love and worship to God. If you were to see the movie "The Passion of the Christ" and next the theatre, a Catholic Mass were to take place, the Mass would be the real thing...the movie would be a facsimile.

That's all for now. I'm sure there are questions...or not. (That was REAL logical, Sam!)

Three Score and Ten or more said...

I love my church, but we have a tendency to be a little conservative with the music. In my case, the results have sometimes been a little funny. I spent a few years as the chorister or song leader. I would get so involved with the melodies that I would sometimes forget which verse (of a 7/11 hymn) I was singing and change verses in mid stream. I have a pretty powerful voice, so the congregation would just shift with me. I sometimes didn't know I had done it till I was everyone look at me, grin, and shake their heads.
I am a nut for Southern Country Gospel music and will be in hog heaven next May when I go to Gatlinburg, Tenn. and spend four days listening to the GAITHER crew. (I have friends that would rather be starving on a desert islant). different strokes for different folks I guess.