Saturday, October 14, 2006

IBC Session 3: Roger Bergs "Choosing Music for Corporate Worship"

Note: I was absent for the first half of this lecture.

We can’t navigate a music and text without some form of meter. Catholics, and other ancient religions use chanting – but it flat-lines emotions and makes it nearly impossible for the congregation to join in.

Metrical Psalms

You might sacrifice the sense of the text if all you do is try to sing the English words. To put them into metrical sense like Isaac Watts. Watts was the inventor and perfector of English language Psalter. He gave a NT sense to the Psalms. But now you are in the realm of interpretation… and that means error might creep in.

Other Hymns

These are based on specific texts, without using the exact language. Colossians 1:15-20 is a prime example of this as it is then put into hymn form as “Come, Let us Worship the Christ of Creation.”

Corporate Singing: Word of the Father Everlasting

Narrative passages into versified form: While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks by Night (Luke 2). Romans 10:14-17 is versified into How Shall They Hear the Word of God (sung to the tune Huron Carol – Canada’s great hymn contribution!).

Hymns of Human Composition

They deliver biblical truth, or response to God, or build up the faith. An example, “All My Hope on god is Founded.” All the lines justify themselves by using many different Scriptures and putting them together thematically. Systematizing Truth, you might say.

Take various threads of Scripture

It used to be that the ministers of the Word wrote the texts of hymn. They chose the hymns. Then musicians set these things to music! We need a return to this.

A Well-Written Tune

Peruse the composer index of any hymnal and see great composers, but they had their works used in part only. They did not write hymn tunes. There were men like Lowell Mason who wrote lots of tunes that we sing. Townend, Getty, and the like are men like this – writing singable tunes. Must respect the limits of congregational range.

Choosing Music

One hymnal. A hymnal and another book or two. Or limitless on powerpoint or bulletin. You must still use discernment in choosing what is sung.

Discussion of types of prayer in worship. Every prayer has a form and content that is appropriate for where it falls into the service. The same is true with songs. We need to think through these choices carefully. If you would not be speaking what the hymn says at this point in the service, then don’t sing it!

Order of Worship

Revivalism worked like this: music was the opening act for the main guy. Music is not a warm-up act to get people into the frame of mind. Choice then, is all boiled down to personal preference. If your content of singing is optional, why would anyone listen to the preaching?

Identify the principle theme of the sermon. A theological angle and an anthropocentric angle.

Limit new tunes to one per service at most. Resist the standard to equivocate to sub-standard hymns. “If I Were a Butterfly!”

People need to understand what they are singing. Introduce a song, but you have to know it and understand it first to do this correctly.

People have to sing. The musical accompaniment must not be so loud that you cannot hear voices around you.

All of this takes time and a degree of talent.

We finished with “Crown Him with Many Crowns!”