Silly Songs and the Second Commandment

October 14th, 2013 Post by

praise There is a fascination among our youth and those who engage in youth ministry to wed meal time prayers—grace—with tunes from society’s pop culture and songs. I have lost count of the number of times I have heard meal prayers sung to the tune of: 1) Superman, 2) Gilligan’s Island, 3) Rock Around the Clock, 4) Adam’s Family, 5) Row, Row, Row Your Boat. I could list many more examples but I prefer not. For different reasons mealtime prayers are wedded to these secular tunes; “prayer tunes,” I call them. This wedding of secular tunes to pious words has a technical name. It is called a contrafacta.

Defenders of such a wedding between secular tunes and pious words say that since Martin Luther did so we are free as well to follow his example. But not so fast.

“Of the melodies to Luther’s 37 chorales, 15 were composed by Luther himself, 13 came from Latin hymns of Latin service music, 4 were derived from German religious folk songs, 2 had originally been religious pilgrims’ songs, 2 are of unknown origin, and one came directly from a secular folk song.”[1] Luther’s use of one melody that came from a secular folk song is instructive for those who desire to take a secular tune or melody and apply a Christian message to it. There are those who claim that since Luther used tavern tunes for his hymns, we should have the liberty to do so. To this assertion Richard Resch responds:

 Claims that he used tavern tunes for his hymns are used in defense of a music practice that freely accepts worldly associations. Such conclusions bear no resemblance to Luther’s writings on the subjects of worship and music. In fact, Luther’s actions teach us quite a different lesson. In his search for the right tune for his text Vom Himmel hoch, da komm’ ich her, Luther learned about the power of worldly associations. According to the Luther scholar Markus Jenny, Luther’s first wedding of this text with a tune was “a classic example of the failure of a contrafacta.” He set it to a secular dance song that begins, “I step eagerly to this dance.” The dance and tune were closely associated with a Christmas wreath ceremony that was often held in taverns. Luther found the secular associations to be so strong that he eventually wrote a fresh tune that was free of worldly associations. He then indicated on the manuscript that this new melody was to be used in the Sunday service and with children. Luther’s modification of this beloved hymn is indication of his sensitivity to the harmful power of worldly associations in the worship practice of the church.[2]

Luther, like all of us, learned from his mistakes. The worldly association of the tune was too strong and this worldly association brought with it a different spirit. The associated message of the tune overrode the message of the words. The spirit of the tune should be one that does not draw attention to itself but one that undergirds the message of the text.

What message is sent when mealtime prayers are sung to 1) Superman, 2) Gilligan’s Island, 3) Rock Around the Clock, etc.? Do such prayer tunes engender a respect of awe and holiness befitting the one true and Triune God? Or does the wedding of such prayer tunes addressing Father, X Son, and Holy Spirit convey an attitude of silliness? What I have observed is that when these songs are used for prayers the children act silly, and goofy, as the children take their cue from the tunes.

There is nothing silly, cute, or entertaining about Christ’s innocent, bitter, suffering and death on the cross. It was horrific in its cruelty. The pain from Roman beatings and physical punishment on the cross is exceeded by the tortures of hell the Son of God endured for us on the cross as our holy Substitute. Prayer tunes from 1) Superman, 2) Gilligan’s Island, etc., do not convey an attitude of reverence. There is nothing silly about Christ’s suffering for our sins whatsoever. Picture a crucifix on your mind’s eye. It is not silly and nor is it pretty. But it is the most beautiful expression of God’s love for us sinners.

The chief priests, scribes and elders (Mt 27:41, Mk 15:20), with Herod and his Temple soldiers (Lk 23:11), as well as Roman soldiers (Lk 23:35, 36) mocked and sneered at Jesus. Mockery is defined by Webster as “… an insincere, contemptible, or impertinent imitation”[3]. Does it not seem frighteningly odd that the singing of pop-culture’s silly songs with sacred words might be a little too close to the chief priests, etc., Herod and his soldiers as well as the Roman soldiers who mocked and sneered at Jesus?

I rather suspect the Coptic Christians who are being slaughtered in Egypt, or the members of All Saints Church in the old quarter of the regional capital, Peshawar, in northwestern Pakistan where seventy-eight of their congregants were killed by two suicide bombs on Sunday, September 22, 2013, might forego the singing of silly songs. Their hymns and mealtime prayers to our resurrected Lord Jesus would no doubt be reverent and devout mixed with plenty of heartfelt tears as they cry out to Jesus in their anguish for deliverance.

Is it because we in the West have become weary of pleasure that we wed sacred words to secular tunes? When the pleasure button is pressed repeatedly it can no longer deliver or sustain the “high” and so new measures or gimmicks are developed to engender new highs. Ravi Zacharias has written that “blindness to the sacred is the cause of all evil.”[4] I would change just one word in what Zacharias has written to more accurately reflect what is going on: “blindness to the sacred is the cause of all silliness.”

Our Syndical Catechism addresses this silliness in regards to the Second Commandment.

 27 How is God’s Name Misused?

God’s name is misused when people

A.  speak God’s name uselessly or carelessly (see Ex. 20:7).[5]

Unless I am totally missing something, to speak of God in silly ways with the above mentioned prayer tunes is to speak God’s name uselessly and carelessly, and this has no place among the baptized. Youth may enjoy this type of silliness for holiness and reverence do not reside in the old sinful Adam. Holiness and reverence need to be taught. “What is God’s name? God, as He has revealed Himself to us, His essence and His attributes.”[6]

When non-Christians hear us call on God’s name in a silly manner what is the non-Christian to believe? Do silly songs indicate to the lost that what we are about is important and life-changing for eternity or, does it show that we are having just a little “fun”? If we in our actions and prayers do not give respect and reverence to Jesus is it any wonder that the world follows suit?

Holiness and reverence of God’s name have nothing to do with physical location such as a brick and mortar building occupied by the baptized on Sunday morning. Whether in a church sanctuary or on a baseball diamond, we have the privilege of calling upon the thrice holy God in prayer. At his name demons flee and that name was placed upon us in Holy Baptism saving us from sin, death, and the power of the devil. There is everything holy about God’s name.

In his letter to the Ephesians the Apostle Paul instructs that in our speech “… no filthiness nor foolish [or silly] talk nor crude joking, …” (Eph 5:4) be found on our lips but rather thanksgiving. Let us speak, pray to, and worship Father, X Son, and Holy Spirit “… with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire” (Heb 12:28-29) who loves us more than we can begin to imagine.

In Christ,

- Pastor Weber



[1] Robert Harrell, Martin Luther: His Music His Message (Greenville, SC: Musical Ministries, 1980), 19.

[2] Richard Resch, “Music: Gift of God or Tool of the Devil,” Logia 3 (April 1994): 36.

[3] Webster’s Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary (Springfield, MA: Merriam-Webster Inc., Pub., 1989), 762.

[4] Ravi Zacharias, Jesus Among Other Gods: The Absolute Claims of the Christian Message (Nashville: W. Publishing Group, 2000), 137.

[5] Luther’s Small Catechism with Explanation (St. Louis, Concordia, 1991), question 27.

[6] Luther’s Small Catechism with Explanation (St. Louis, Concordia, 1991), question 25.


Categories: Pastor Karl Weber Tags:




Rules for comments on this site:


Engage the contents and substance of the post. Rabbit trails and side issues do not help the discussion of the topics.  Our authors work hard to write these articles and it is a disservice to them to distract from the topic at hand.  If you have a topic you think is important to have an article or discussion on, we invite you to submit a request through the "Ask a Pastor" link or submit a guest article.


Provide a valid email address. If you’re unwilling to do this, we are unwilling to let you comment.


Provide at least your first name. Please try to come up with a unique name; if you have a common name add something to it so you aren't confused with another user. We have several "john"'s already for example.  If you have a good reason to use a fake name, please do so but realize that the administrators of the site expect a valid email address and also reserve the right to ask you for your name privately at any time.


If you post as more than one person from the same IP address, we’ll block that address.


Do not engage in ad hominem arguments. We will delete such comments, and will not be obligated to respond to any complaints (public or private ones) about deleting your comments.


Interaction between people leaving comments ought to reflect Christian virtue, interaction that is gracious and respectful, not judging motives.  If error is to be rebuked, evidence of the error ought to be provided.


We reserve the right to identify and deal with trollish behavior as we see fit and without apology.  This may include warnings (public or private ones) or banning.

  1. Rev. Robert Mayes
    November 8th, 2013 at 12:05 | #1

    @rev. david l. prentice jr. #48

    David – Thank you for going to the conference and sharing what you learned. I wanted to go, but just couldn’t this year.

    There’s a good argument by Calvin Stapert, A New Song for an Old World: Musical Thought in the Early Church, about the use of musical instruments in Old Testament Judaism. He references a lot of these psalms where these instruments were used, such as Ps. 150, etc. But the fascinating thing is that musicologists have examined that the instruments that were being used and told to use in the Psalms were different from the instruments pagans used for their religious rituals and weddings. They apparently used double-reed instruments (think like an oboe), and the description in the Psalms is that the faithful are to use different instruments and not these double-reed ones.

    What this means, therefore, is that when we refer to the psalms for instrumental use in the church, we should recognize that there is a general principle to which they are following, which then they fulfill by specific examples. We do not need to follow the specific examples – as many of these are culturally bound (People today don’t think of any pagans who play double-reed instruments for specific religious rituals). But we are bound to the general principle, even if we follow it with different examples.

    So, in Ps. 150 and the like, the general principle is that believers are not to use the instruments for worship that are commonly associated with false teaching, false belief and worldliness. At that time, such instruments were the double-reed instruments used by pagans. So instead, the various instruments prescribed followed the principle and were good (lyre, tambourine, etc.).

    For us today, the general principle still stands: believers are not to use the instruments for worship that are commonly associated with false teaching, false belief and worldliness. At this time, such instruments are the trapset, electric guitars and bass, etc. So instead, the instruments that are prescribed to keep in line with this Biblical principle will be noticeably different.

    Your thoughts are appreciated.

    In Christ,
    Rev. Robert Mayes
    Beemer, NE

  2. November 8th, 2013 at 12:28 | #2

    @Rev. Robert Mayes #1
    Good stuff, thanks…

    BJS editor note, perhaps someone can add a section on music on the site?????

    What you say is good, and I agree, we must be careful with what we use in God’s house, in liturgy. In fact, I do believe (must dig up the references) that organ was not good for worship for a time, since it was played (a type of) when Christians were being slaughtered.

    In reality, same goes for the cross, dig up art history, the cross was not really potrayed as it is today, because of the nature of how horrible a torture instrument it was. Until the 400’s or so, art started to show this more and more.

    So, as the organ is simply a piano too many on steroids (electric or pipe) and it is good, the electric guitar is an amplified guitar. Does it belong?????

    I guess I would say, does it enhance and support God’s Word to us in the Divine Liturgy?

  3. Diane
    November 8th, 2013 at 15:03 | #3

    @rev. david l. prentice jr. #2
    I was at the GSI also. My takeaway:

    1. The organizers did an outstanding job planning and executing all the worship and musical events.

    2. The Hymn Festival on Monday night was extraordinary.

    3. I was pleased with all the talented and knowledgeable presenters.

    4. I’m glad ‘discernment’ in musical selections for worship was discussed and maybe more people will keep that foremost in mind when selecting hymns, etc. After all, Lutheran hymnody has always been about proclamation of God’s Word and comfort to the hearers.

    5. A surprise to me was one of the presenters had never heard of ‘Lamb of God’ by Twila Paris, LSB 550.

    6. Another surprise was the percentage of 1st year seminarians at Concordia Seminary in St. Louis who have never sung out of a hymnal – 30%.

    Diane

  4. Quasicelsus
    November 9th, 2013 at 01:11 | #4

    “So, in Ps. 150 and the like, the general principle is that believers are not to use the instruments for worship that are commonly associated with false teaching, false belief and worldliness. At that time, such instruments were the double-reed instruments used by pagans. So instead, the various instruments prescribed followed the principle and were good (lyre, tambourine, etc.).”

    DISCLAIMER: i have not read Calvin Stapert’s book.

    I have a huuuuuuuuuuge urge to reject the implications of the conclusion of Stapert.

    in the same way i have the same urge to reject this
    http://www.bereacoc.com/whychrisworship.htm

    I can understand a correlation to St. Paul and braided hair, and i can also see taking that too far. Guitars and trap sets are associated with far more than party rock. There are people that still can’t shake the connotations of the circus or baseball rally music – which i also think is a shame. What can be said about the versatility of the piano in music?

    This does not mean i don’t absolutely adore traditional hymns, and, in fact, i prefer them.

    i still think the meat and vegetable discussion st. Paul has seems far more appropriate.

  5. ChrisB
    November 9th, 2013 at 09:28 | #5

    Not addressing the silly portion of the post, I do want to make a point about the fusion of secular tunes and sacred texts. A friend of mine had some rough experiences, and he cringes every time he hears Pink Floyd’s “The Wall” album. Imagine if someone used a tune from that in a sacred setting? His worship would be totally derailed as he thinks back on the bad experiences. What if people got high to songs from some artists, and repented of this behavior, and then found themselves in a worship service employing some of the same tunes? Likewise, an African friend once asked why anyone would use certain beats he heard in CW that resemble beats used in profane rituals. These things do have consequences.

    Now, my kids do take tunes they know and use them extemporaneously for their own praise, and I don’t discourage this, but I also teach them hymns from TLH along with letting them enjoy the Group VBS CDs we get from VBS. They prefer traditional worship because they have been taught it’s value. This was strategic on our part. I whistle Bach when I am joyful, but it doesn’t prevent me from attending a CW service when I can’t make it to a traditional one. As long as the singers are Christ focused, not self-serving. That is indeed a huge concern. Along with boomer worship having very little to do with gen xers like myself.

  6. John Rixe
    November 9th, 2013 at 09:29 | #6

    Psalm 150 seems like a repetitive (gasp) praise song. The COWO around here is lacking in dance and loud clashing cymbals but all our instruments are acoustic.

  7. November 9th, 2013 at 10:48 | #7

    Diane :
    Lutheran hymnody has always been about proclamation of God’s Word and comfort to the hearers.

    (worth repeating)
    .
    .

    Another surprise was the percentage of 1st year seminarians at Concordia Seminary in St. Louis who have never sung out of a hymnal – 30%.

    I’m not surprised at how high the percentage has gotten, but I am saddened at this huge loss of heritage and unity.

  8. Diane
    November 9th, 2013 at 11:25 | #8

    @ChrisB #5
    Hi Chris,
    One of the presenters for the Good Shepherd Institute was Stephen R. Johnson who has written music for S. Starke’s hymns. He sat down at the piano and sang ‘Salvation Unto us has Come’ to a pop tune (I can’t remember which one). It didn’t work at all! The tune has to match the text for a good hymn/song.

    Diane

  9. Jais H. Tinglund
    November 9th, 2013 at 11:36 | #9

    @Diane #3

    Diane :
    Another surprise was the percentage of 1st year seminarians at Concordia Seminary in St. Louis who have never sung out of a hymnal – 30%.

    Might these 30% include those who had been used to hymns from the LW and LSB being printed in a worship bulletin rather than sung directly out of the hymnal?

  10. Diane
    November 9th, 2013 at 12:19 | #10

    @Jais H. Tinglund #9
    That could be true, Jais. Dr. Burreson just stated the fact and it wasn’t discussed.

  11. Rev. Mark Bestul
    November 9th, 2013 at 13:03 | #11

    John Rixe :
    Psalm 150 seems like a repetitive (gasp) praise song. The COWO around here is lacking in dance and loud clashing cymbals but all our instruments are acoustic.

    Mr. Rixe, I do not mean to imply that you intended this, but I think the “gasp” of your mention of praise song is instructive for our consideration…

    … there are some in our church body who believe that we liturgical and hymnal-based folks are opposed to “praise songs.” Yet, the LSB’s “Praise and Adoration” section is larger than any other section in the hymnal (33 hymns), except for Christmas (36 hymns) and Easter (34 hymns), and tied with Trust (33). The Praise Songs of our hymnal number more than the sections on Lord’s Supper, Baptism, Confession, and Redeemer (all which also include praise of Christ through their doctrine). If COWO crowds were concerned about having enough praise songs, they’d have no trouble with LSB. But, let’s be honest: the COWO music does not find its way into our churches because LSB suffers from “praise deficiency.” It finds its way in because COWO followers are not driven by content or doctrine, but by the fact that the LSB doesn’t “sound” or “feel” like the praise songs they want to sing.

    Anyone who argues that hymn-based folk are too worried about what “the music sounds like” actually should be asking the COWO crowd why they’re unwilling to stick with LSB.

  12. November 9th, 2013 at 16:23 | #12

    Rev. Mark Bestul :

    COWO music does not find its way into our churches because LSB suffers from “praise deficiency.” It finds its way in because COWO followers are not driven by content or doctrine, but by the fact that the LSB doesn’t “sound” or “feel” like the praise songs they want to sing.

    Amen! And I would add that there are new selections (COWO?) in the LSB — but only those selected for their Scriptural content and doctrine in addition to their sound and feel.

  13. ChrisB
    November 9th, 2013 at 21:50 | #13

    Hi Diane,

    @Diane #8
    I am sure that would be the case. I find most of today’s pop tunes don’t even have a melody to speak of. Just chords with no voice leading. It becomes mind numbing. I never thought I’d become a curmudgeon, but I just tune out of most stuff these days. The old hymns and tunes do have tremendous theological depth and beautiful melodies. You can actually SING them, and remember them. I accept that cowo is what a large percentage of what Americans know, but if we can educate (what I got I of Valpo’s music program in the 90s) there may be a turn toward the sacred awesomeness of our heritage. It takes time and prayer.

    I find my intellect stimulated by hymns. The complexity of the music and the depth of theology is so cool. I am able to go thru TLH, LW, and LSB with my kids and explain the voice leanings, play them, and see which they prefer. Such fun.

    But if ppl really can’t stand the organ, the mor confessional reformed groups, such as RUF have done a great job of putting old hymn texts to more bluesy/folky arrangements meant to be done on a college campus. These are classy, old school, and yet approachable for the uninitiated/unchurched. Great for ppl raised on and burned out by CW. We could do something similar as a “gateway” to our own heritage.

  14. Rev. Robert Mayes
    November 11th, 2013 at 10:36 | #14

    @Quasicelsus #4

    Quasi – I must not be understanding the reason for your rejection of Stapert’s argument. Could you please explain so I know where you’re coming from? Not to be evil or mean-spiritied or anything, just wanting to know.

    In Christ,
    Pastor Robert Mayes
    Beemer, NE

  15. Rev. Robert Mayes
    November 11th, 2013 at 12:00 | #15

    @Quasicelsus #4

    Quasi – I just wanted to say that I had looked at the link you had provided in your comment, from the Berean pastor who rejects all instrumental music in church. Let me say first that I agree with you completely 100% in rejecting this paper. Lots of false and poor exegesis in here.

    In some ways, it’s the old Zwinglian theology on music in church. He also refused instruments in worship. I think Beza later did this also in the Calvinist circles, but I’d have to recheck. Nonetheless, Luther’s view was much more balanced than Zwingli’s, and later Lutherans like Andrae and Selneccer also addressed it.

    I would like to steer the conversation back to the earlier post about Pietism, too. It seems fair to say that if one holds the Pietist view as expressed by Loescher, that person embraces those practices that are now evident in contemporary worship. Is that a more realistic assessment than simply equating contemporary worship with Pietism?

    In Christ,
    Rev. Robert Mayes
    Beemer, NE

  16. Quasicelsus
    November 11th, 2013 at 12:36 | #16

    @Rev. Robert Mayes #14

    Thank you for asking me about it. I actually appreciate it.

    I don’t reject the book, and at this point, i don’t know that i’m rejecting the fullness of his argument. It’s the implication of the conclusion that i’m skeptical about.

    I’m curious on the intentions of the psalm writers – whoever wrote 150 (and others) about “praise him with X” may or may not have been thinking “do not praise him with Y.”

    Again, i think about the hair braids. i invite you and others to educate me more clearly on the Paul thing, but i’m hearing the running theme be something (and this is simplified) “don’t do as the pagans do. ” This makes sense. This seems clear. This seems good. This seems useful.

    But at no point do i think it’s simple “yes” and “no” toggles to say “organ good” “guitar bad.” I’m not claiming you or the author are saying that, but it appears to be moving that direction.

    I’d like to see someone write an article called “redeeming the trap-set from pagan lies” and show the use of percussion coming from the timbrel (or TOPH).

    The use of the organ is arguable, and it has a host of merits. I will not be arguing against it. The use of other instruments, at this point in history, also have their merits. HOW they are used in a God pleasing manner speak more to the crux.

    Compare this thread to the halloween thread and the customs involved in each. It’s not a pure overlap, and there are differences in ideas going.

  17. helen
    November 11th, 2013 at 13:25 | #17

    @Quasicelsus #16
    The use of the organ is arguable, and it has a host of merits. I will not be arguing against it. The use of other instruments, at this point in history, also have their merits. HOW they are used in a God pleasing manner speak more to the crux.

    Aside from the music, consider the presentation.
    Organs and choirs are in the organ loft, or in the transepts in a few churches. Our brass or woodwind people are there, too.
    [Our bell choir which doesn’t fit in our small balcony, has a side alcove, where only the front rows see them.]
    (And you know where most Lutherans sit!) ;)

    “Praise” bands and mike-sucking soloists “need” a stage and take over the chancel, thus making themselves more important than Word and Sacrament.

  18. November 11th, 2013 at 18:43 | #18

    helen :
    “Praise” bands and mike-sucking soloists “need” a stage and take over the chancel, thus making themselves more important than Word and Sacrament.

    (worth repeating)

  19. Quasicelsus
    November 12th, 2013 at 00:23 | #19

    @helen #17

    I can honestly say i’ve been to 5 churches with a praise band and none of them were up front. 2 were in the balcony.

    considering presentation is very important. I was thinking about the “don’t do as pagans” and it strikes me more not to have a leather clad rocker front and center. Guitar and pop music have changed so much, that i wouldn’t even say anything that i’ve heard on christian radio sounds like anything on other top 40 stations. It sounds like mid 90’s college alternative. That’s not even mainstream. I’ve heard christian rap that sounds palatable, but very very little. I honestly haven’t heard anything from a praise band that sounds like a song that came out in the past 10 years.

    ““Praise” bands and mike-sucking soloists “need” a stage and take over the chancel, thus making themselves more important than Word and Sacrament.”
    – This sentence is accurate insofar as ‘praise’ is being quoted sarcastically and the soloists are indeed mic-sucking. as far as all praise bands, i think this is a sweeping generalization that makes for an unhealthy stereotype.

  20. helen
    November 12th, 2013 at 06:34 | #20

    @Quasicelsus #19
    i think this is a sweeping generalization that makes for an unhealthy stereotype.

    This is what I have seen; if it’s unique in LCMS, I’m very glad!

    [I was being sarcastic, but the description is accurate.]

    I haven’t met any pagans with braids. I have heard that I remind people of their grandmother. Fair enough, I am one. :)

  21. Rev. Robert Mayes
    November 12th, 2013 at 07:08 | #21

    @Quasicelsus #16

    Quasi – Stapert’s book is very interesting. The point I mentioned is just a minor point, but important. The main thrust is to identify what early Christians thought about music. He looks at both East and West, from several centuries, both writers who seemed more strict and those who seemed less strict. And what he found was that all throughout, there was a large scale rejection of pagan music, pagan musical instruments in Christian worship, and so on. I highly recommend reading it.

    You wrote, “I’m curious on the intentions of the psalm writers – whoever wrote 150 (and others) about “praise him with X” may or may not have been thinking “do not praise him with Y.””

    Answer: Fair enough. Arguments from silence are not good or helpful. Yet when we conduct proper exegesis, one of the steps we take is to understand the environment and the culture it was spoken in. That helps us understand the point of the text in question. With Psalm 150, Stapert argues that there were other instruments around in the culture of that day. But the psalmist only includes those instruments that were counter-cultural. (Interestingly enough, early Christians rejected these instruments in Christian worship because they were too Jewish. Go figure.)

    You wrote, “Again, i think about the hair braids. i invite you and others to educate me more clearly on the Paul thing, but i’m hearing the running theme be something (and this is simplified) “don’t do as the pagans do. ” This makes sense. This seems clear. This seems good. This seems useful.”

    Answer: Help me out here. I hadn’t noticed anything about hair braids earlier in the discussion and I’m not quite sure I know what you’re talking about with the whole “Paul thing.”

    What did you think about the way I reclarified the Pietist issue? Repeating myself, I said “It seems fair to say that if one holds the Pietist view as expressed by Loescher, that person embraces those practices that are now evident in contemporary worship.” Thoughts?

    In Christ,
    Rev. Robert Mayes

  22. Dave Schumacher
    November 12th, 2013 at 07:34 | #22

    Pastor Ted Crandall :

    helen :
    “Praise” bands and mike-sucking soloists “need” a stage and take over the chancel, thus making themselves more important than Word and Sacrament.

    (worth repeating)

    Yes Pastor. I wonder if that is also the gist of what Paul was saying in 1 Timothy 2:9?

  23. Rev. McCall
    November 12th, 2013 at 08:49 | #23

    @Rev. Robert Mayes #21
    “Yet when we conduct proper exegesis, one of the steps we take is to understand the environment and the culture it was spoken in. That helps us understand the point of the text in question. With Psalm 150, Stapert argues that there were other instruments around in the culture of that day. But the psalmist only includes those instruments that were counter-cultural. (Interestingly enough, early Christians rejected these instruments in Christian worship because they were too Jewish. Go figure.)”

    I don’t necessarily buy Stapert’s argument, at least on this point. He is attempting to argue what Voelz would call the 3rd level of interpretation, a dicey area, author intent. First one would have to assume that the instruments mentioned in the Psalms were somehow an exhaustive list of the only instruments allowed. Second, one would have to show that these instruments truly were not used ANYWHERE else in pagan culture. Given that Israel adopted just about everything else from pagan culture at one point or another, including temple prostitutes and the like, I find it extremely hard to believe that these instruments were exclusively counter-cultural. I’m willing to bet that most of the instruments and musical style Israel had at least initially came from Egypt where they had been in captivity for generations.

    The church certainly should not strive to look like the culture, but that does not mean that just because something is a part of secular culture it is carte blanche inappropriate. Since there is no Biblical mandate on any instrument Christians should be free to use any instrument as long as it is appropriately and tastefully done. (i.e. no leather clad mic-suckers. ;-) )

    Oh, and thanks for the book recommendation earlier! :-)

  24. helen
    November 12th, 2013 at 11:02 | #24

    @Dave Schumacher #22
    1 Timothy 2:9
    9 likewise also that women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire,

    Cute, David!
    I rather think Paul was criticizing ostentatious display, don’t you?
    [I am “in style” about once in seven years, as hair styles change. That amuses me.] ;)
    Clothes? :)

  25. Rev. Robert Mayes
    November 13th, 2013 at 11:23 | #25

    @Rev. McCall #23

    Brother McCall –

    Allow me to respond then to author intent of Ps. 150.

    You said, “First one would have to assume that the instruments mentioned in the Psalms were somehow an exhaustive list of the only instruments allowed.”

    Answer: The other Scriptures referring to music indicate that it is an exhaustive list. Nowhere else do these dual-reed instruments get mentioned. Stapert gets into this a lot in his book. Lots here also on music in the temple and in Judaism. He’s done the archaeological research as well.

    Your next point: “Second, one would have to show that these instruments truly were not used ANYWHERE else in pagan culture.”

    Answer – First allow me to recommend another good book on the subject then. Johannes Quasten, Music & Worship in Pagan & Christian Antiquity, National Association of Pastoral Musicians, Washington D.C., 1983. Quasten has done a fine job of identifying and displaying how pagans used and thought of music in their religious rituals, and how Christians always taught against them.

    Read Stapert, too. Stapert shows at least 4 contexts that pagan music was used, and rejected by Christians to adopt for their worship. What Christians rejected was the music from: 1) popular public spectacles (i.e., sexually licentious or idolatrous theatrical shows); 2) voluptuous banqueting; 3) pagan weddings; 4) pagan religious rites. Early Christians did not reject all profane songs, but they did not seem to adopt these melodies and use them in the church’s worship.

    You said, “Given that Israel adopted just about everything else from pagan culture at one point or another, including temple prostitutes and the like, I find it extremely hard to believe that these instruments were exclusively counter-cultural. I’m willing to bet that most of the instruments and musical style Israel had at least initially came from Egypt where they had been in captivity for generations.”

    Answer: Are you seriously looking to Israel’s adoption of temple prostitution as a rationale for allowing contemporary worship? Wow. Just, wow. I could certainly say that in their days of apostasy and faithlessness, Israel adopted the musical instruments and forms of the culture just as they did temple prostitution and idolatry. But that still would not prove that faithful Israelites would allow any of it. Nor that we should do it today. We do not base our church practice on what faithless apostates do, but rather on the Word. And the Word clearly indicates a countercultural list of instruments different than what pagan rituals used.

    As for borrowing music from their taskmasters in Egypt, I’d be interested if you can find any evidence of it. Supposing it was so gets us nowhere.

    In Christ,
    Rev. Robert Mayes
    Beemer, NE

  26. Quasicelsus
    November 13th, 2013 at 16:03 | #26

    “What did you think about the way I reclarified the Pietist issue? Repeating myself, I said “It seems fair to say that if one holds the Pietist view as expressed by Loescher, that person embraces those practices that are now evident in contemporary worship.” Thoughts?”

    That’s much better. I wouldn’t tweak it too much. maybe “is frequently seen in contemporary worship.” Heck, i don’t think i’d be put off if you said “the vast majority” – or even “the vast majority of what i’ve seen.”

    I don’t deny any of that.

    please forgive my bad analogy, i wouldn’t disband police because corruption can be found frequently throughout most of the jurisdictions i’ve seen. Or say that we shouldn’t have congregations because a problem related to inappropriate behavior has, and continues to happen.

    I have spoken, and will continue to speak, towards practices that teach pure doctrine. I will continue to encourage those in CoWo to be aware of the pitfalls that surround it.
    I would not dismiss a guitar is pagan no more than i would dismiss an organ as catholic.

    Yesterday i was watching a rambunctious nephew and i pulled out my guitar and we sang Jesus loves me. We sang “this little gospel light.” we jumped down, turned around, touched the ground and praised our Lord. We sang amazing grace.
    1) to think that kids can’t understand or appreciate hymns – or reverent worship – is an atrocious thing.
    2) to think that “jumping down, turning around, and touching the ground as you praise the Lord” is something that’s just for kids is also atrocious.

    Finding that time and place is the use of wisdom.

    That being said, i don’t prefer to dance in the isles. If there’s a place that expresses joy in salvation, and finds a way to do that, I don’t think “enthusiasm” is to blame. That’s like saying “don’t do good works, lest someone think you’re doing works righteousness.”

  27. helen
    November 14th, 2013 at 10:28 | #27

    @Quasicelsus #26
    That being said, i don’t prefer to dance in the isles.

    I think dancing in the isles is great… (Hawaiian, for choice.) :)
    Sorry, couldn’t resist that one! ;)

    2. …to think that “jumping down, turning around, and touching the ground as you praise the Lord” is something that’s just for kids is also atrocious.

    Just realistic, for some of us. :(

  28. Quasicelsus
    November 14th, 2013 at 10:50 | #28

    helen :
    2. …to think that “jumping down, turning around, and touching the ground as you praise the Lord” is something that’s just for kids is also atrocious.
    Just realistic, for some of us.

    I agree. I remember when I talked with some elders at an 8am liturgical church and I asked if kneeling was an issue, and half the group would have preferred to sit, the others said they would continue to do it until they absolutely physically couldn’t.

  29. November 14th, 2013 at 16:51 | #29

    Rev. Robert Mayes :@Rev. McCall #23
    Answer: Are you seriously looking to Israel’s adoption of temple prostitution as a rationale for allowing contemporary worship?

    I’d love to see the response to this.
    .

    Quasicelsus :
    I remember when I talked with some elders at an 8am liturgical church…

    And that’s another thing — why doesn’t the new, innovative service get scheduled at 8 a.m.? It’s a self-fulfilling prophesy when you give it the more popular time slot and then “predict” it will be more popular with the people. It’s not entirely honest to conclude that the people must prefer it, since more people attend at 10:30 than attend at 8 a.m.

Comment pages
1 3 4 5 33213
If you have problems commenting on this site, or need to change a comment after it has been posted on the site, please contact us. For help with getting your comment formatted, click here.
Subscribe to comments feed  ..  Subscribe to comments feed for this post
Anonymous comments are welcome on this board, but we do require a valid email address so the admins can verify who you are. Please try to come up with a unique name; if you have a common name add something to it so you aren't confused with another user. We have several "john"'s already for example. Email addresses are kept private on this site, and only available to the site admins. Comments posted without a valid email address may not be published. Want an icon to identify your comment? See this page to see how.
*

Notify me of followup comments via e-mail. You can also subscribe without commenting.