Vol.XIII No.I Pg.8
March 1976

Stuff About Things

Robert F. Turner

This morning we turned on the T.V. to get the news, and heard the last number of a Jerry Clower show--a rip-snorting, whoop- it-up, foot-patting rendition of The Man Walking on the Water. The instrumentalists knew their business well; and the singers presented a lively harmony -- swinging and swaying melodiously and bodily. If you had an ounce of rhythm in your bones you: were soon patting your foot and clapping your hands with them.

This was a country-western song, suitable for a lively dance in some Consolidated School gym. The fact that the words of the song were about Jesus Christ and His miracles did not change the songs character, nor make it an expression of worship. At Grand 0l Opry, and in record shops of pop music it would likely be called Gospel Music; but that has become a secular category, not even comparable to the old-time negro spirituals which expressed genuine faith in God. The T.V. musical number was presented for fleshly joy and entertainment, in exactly the same vein with Jerrys jokes; and in this article we will take no issue with either.

But we are disturbed by evidence that brethren are using church assemblies and worship periods to gratify this same fleshly urge for rhythmic satisfaction. We notice a decided upswing in the use of whoop-it-up types of songs for worship — with syncopated after-beat and other rhythmic gyrations that may prompt or add to the fleshly joy of singing, but contribute nothing to the God-directed purpose of worshipful praise. (Col. 3:16)

The subject is a touchy one, for musical tastes differ, we are told. Is that our purpose — to satisfy our tastes? Are we even trying to appeal to Gods musical taste; or are we not supposed to be expressing our love, praise, and submission to God, with no thought of self-service.

Our social status, education, etc. will be reflected in the way we express ourselves — as the prayers of a Bostonian lawyer and an Alabama farmer will differ — but neither prayer nor song will get any higher than the ceiling if we are trying to please ourselves with the sound of or voice.

I do not plead for uniformity of musical taste. Uniformity of spiritual purpose will be enough. With that we should be able to worship God with a dignity one step above jungle rout.