On church music

Discussions of this never end, but I thought this was a very interesting essay by Scott Aniol. For me the interest is personal. I came out of the tradition Aniol represents (graduating from one school he attended) and currently attend and a member of a Sovereign Grace church. A few scattered thoughts:

1) I do see some real space between Getty and the SGM music (as he acknowledges in the notes), so some of his comments don’t always apply to all of that.

2) I value classical hymnody and probably would prefer we use a bit more of it – but a significant part of that desire is that our worship reflect the unity of the Christian tradition, a point I don’t think he really develops

3) I do have ongoing hesitations about elevating one particular musical tradition (e.g., western [classical] – which I love) as being somewhat the norm. Though he doesn’t state it directly, it seems to be there. What should we do in Asian or African settings? What about the African-American church and its gospel tradition? I find value a bit more broadly – so I’m not sold entirely, even if you grant his presuppositions (about which there are other questions).

4) I’m sort of a real world rather than ideal world. If some of the resources he mentions are good, where is Bach or the high church, classical sacred tradition? Again, it seems some cultural factors are at work here.

5) I’m enough of a musical snob [not sure if that is a good thing] to recognize some validity in some of the musical judgments he makes. Not all of them, but it seems in every age we have popular songs that are musically subpar (I grew up with plenty of them).

6) The relationship between musical style and theology is worth exploring more. I heard an interesting paper at AAR a few years ago that made a somewhat similar argument. I’ve been mulling the issue over (with no conclusion) ever since.

In any event, though strongly argued, it was gracious so I appreciate the essay for that too!

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