Thursday, August 2, 2012

A Certain Message and a Certain Sound

I know a "Christian Rock" singer who recently let me hear one of his new songs.  Upon completion of the song, I understood about 10 words of it.  Its a good thing we don't talk or type the way he sings, or it would look something like this:
YIIIIII dunnnno what makes dis werld thinkuh thhhhatttt our music is absurduh; YIIII dunt  seeyeah whad dey mean thahat they can't understaaaaand  dese WERDSERR-ERRDS!!!! (insert thumping drums and lots of flailing) 
Scriptures say the following in 1 Corinthians 14:
And even things without life giving sound, whether pipe or harp, except they give a distinction in the sounds, how shall it be known what is piped or harped?  For if the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle? So likewise ye, except ye utter by the tongue words easy to be understood, how shall it be known what is spoken? for ye shall speak into the air.  There are, it may be, so many kinds of voices in the world, and none of them is without signification."
 Paul is teaching in the Corinthian church about tongues and he uses music as an example for them.  He teaches them that what is being sang or played should be understood and have a certain sound.  Our music should have both a certain message and a certain sound.
The certain message should be one that honors the Lord.  Every song has a message.  Even songs without words have a message.  For many years, rock music has generally carried with it the message of drugs, sex, and alcohol.  Country music generally carries with it the message of sensuality, immorality, and alcohol.  Rap has its message, as does every genre of music.  Songs without words carry a message.  Watching a silent movie from days past, one will hear the songs and tell whether the good guy is coming to the rescue or the bad guy is plotting an evil scheme.  What would Jaws be without the "Du-Dum" but an animal planet special?
Our music carries a message.  When we sing in church or hear someone else sing, that music has a message.  In preaching through the Psalms, I realized that each of these Psalms had a message mostly distinct to itself.  Some were praise Psalms, some testimony psalms, some thanksgiving psalms, some vengeance songs, some prophetic...but all had a message.  Opening a hymn book, each of those songs carry a message.  When the piano or organ play an offertory, though no one is singing, a message is being portrayed in the song.
Watching the opening ceremony for the olympics, I cannot tell you how many times the commentators talked about how quickly the parade of nations took place.  At one time, one of the commentators said that they thought it had to do with the music.  He was right.  The fast, heavy beat had the message of "Hurry Up!"  Had they played "It is Well With My Soul" as the nations were entering, we may still be watching them enter.
Every song has a message.  The message needs to be Scriptural.  It needs to be the truth.  That is one area I guard in our usage of a lot of Majesty and Sound Forth Music.  There is a steady diet of "universal church" teaching in their music.  Even Patch indoctrinates our children with it.  It's not just them, but in our hymn books we have to watch out for doctrinal error.
The famous "Onward Christian Soldiers" third verse is very 'universal church-ish.'
Like a mighty army moves the church of God; brothers we are treading where the saints have trod.  We are not divided, all one body we- one in hope and doctrine, one in charity.
People have argued with the "Big deal" argument, yet Jesus said in John 4 that if we are to worship the Father it must be done in "spirit and in truth" (emphasis mine).  Our message needs to be one of truth.  The contemporary christian music world is filled with doctrinal error.
The Southern Gospel music world must be carefully observed.  There is a reason why at the "Southern Gospel Convention" Baptist, Church of God, Church of Christ, Bible Church, Pentecostals, and Charismatics all are gathered there; because the music is generally void of a solid doctrinal message, for if it had one, these people could not unite.  Music has a message and our message in our music should be one that glorifies God and is in truth according to the Word of God.  There should be a certain message to our music.
Paul also uses this passage to show that there should be a certain sound to our music.  If one were to compare the sound of the top 10 Rock songs and top 10 Christian rock songs, one would be hard pressed to distinguish a difference in their sound.  Playing a lot of the world's country music and then playing a lot of the southern gospel music would leave one hard pressed to be able to distinguish a difference in sound.  Yet, the music of God's people should be distinct in its sound.
I can't stand when someone pulls up near me in a car with their woofers thumping a heavy beat making my car rattle with every beat.  I usually turn my Mercury's factory speakers as high as they will go with some preaching to drown it out and make a point.  When people hear our music, it ought to have a certain sound that exemplifies the glory of God.  Our music should sound different.
I believe Paul gives us a good launching pad here on which to build a study of music  Our music should have a certain message and a certain sound.