Reply To: Church Music

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Dear DJ

A very interesting article. Like you I come from a variety of different church backgrounds and musical backgrounds. I was raised Congregationalist, then became a Mormon, which was followed upon my conversion in 1966 I became a Baptist. Two years later upon my parents confession of faith we became members of an Independent Christian Church near our home. Doctrinally they were like the Disciples of Christ church except more conservative as we opposed the ordination of women and having anything to do with gays.  In December of that year 1968 I went to a meeting of Teen Challenge founded by David Wilkerson and got filled with Spirit, spoke in tongues and promptly got kicked out of the Christian church I was attending. So ended up at Melodyland at that time the biggest Charismatic church in Orange County California and where I took my training for ordination. I also during this time had flirtings with the United Pentecostal Church, Assemblies of God and the Foursquare Gospel Church. Upon ordination my parents had moved to Grass Valley just north of Sacramento and church needed an associate pastor so I took the job. A big mistake and I was fired after 4 months. Ended up in Eureka California where I joined a church of former Assembly of God people where I remained for 5 years. Then in 1979 I got involved with Word of Faith Movement  was ordain a minister with them and with them until 2002 when they and I had a falling out and I left for good and became an Episcopalian and then in 2008 I became an Independent Catholic and offshoot of the Old Catholic Church which broke with Rome in 1870 over the doctrine of Papal Infallibility.

Thus with a background like that I have been exposed to many types of music and ways of worship. I found in the more traditional and older established churches they liked the old hymns ( at least a hundred years or better but certainly no newer than the 1940’s maybe). In the Christian church no modern music period as it was considered satanic. I remember our youth group getting into real big trouble for singing Amazing Grace to the melody of the House of the Rising Sun which had just been released. Older members were scandalized by the fact we had done that. Anyway as I became Pentecostal everything was choruses, one to start the service with, pastors announcements, 7 more choruses after that over a 20 minute period, then the sermon another chorus and a closing prayer. Never varied in the close to 30 years I was with them. Of course mixed in with that there would be the raising of hands, clapping of hands, shaking, speaking in tongues, prophecies and occasionally people rolling on the floor, flipping pews, running the aisles. marching around the church to drive the devil out of the church and so on. The louder the service the better as that meant God was really moving. A quiet service we would have thought God had abandoned us and was mad at us.

Then in 2002 when I became an Episcopalian I learned about the mass and the beauty of it. I found out God could move perfectly well in a nice, quiet, dignified, liturgical service like both the Episcopal and Catholic churches have. I learned Jesus could speak through a priest dressed in all his vestments as easily as he could a pastor¬† in a three piece suit. And the most mind blowing revelation of all time¬† they preached the Bible had more Bible read in their services than any of the Protestant church I mad been in and who claimed to preach the true gospel. They usually preached from one verse where the Episcopal had 4 readings from which the sermon was worked around . The priest also usually preached mainly from the gospel reading for the day and how they can apply to us today. Never hardly have I heard a sermon about doctrine, eschatology or any of a myriad of things the church has been fighting over since the very beginning and never agreed on nor will they ever I believe. That was real common especially in the Christian Church I was raised in who would fight over anything at the drop of a pin So in that respect I much prefer an Catholic mass to that. Also I have come to love chanting and especially the Gregorian chant which can really lift my spirit quickly into the heavenly realms and provide such a blessing for me and closeness to Jesus that I don’t feel necessarily at other times.

In summation I have probably shared and digressed to much but over all I still love the old hymns of the church and get easily choked up when the churches I attend sing them especially when some I haven’t heard or sung in over 20 years or more. I also love the choruses which I have sung most of adult life and which to me just express the gospel in a little different way that the hymns. I would also have to admit that once in a great while I still like a good rousing Pentecostal worship service. However I don’t need it every week nor do I need it to survive. It has actually been 4 years since the last time I was in one and I don’t feel like I am missing anything.

As for Catholic worship, at the point I am now, I can’t live without it. I love the blending of some of the old hymns of the church, with the new choruses and the chanting as well. I also love the fact I get to receive the body and blood of Christ weekly and rededicate and recommit my life to him again at that time. In conclusion¬† there is a saying I think is applicable here “different strokes for different folks” No one shoe fits all. We all have different tastes and I believe God can use all music to glorify Himself and bring people to Himself. It may not be my choice of worship music but as long as it speaks to somebody and helps people come to Him then I say cool and I rejoice for those who will come to Christ because of that music. So in whatever way God’s name be praised. Hope this helps explain some things and at least partially be what what you were looking for. As always love to hear your thought and ideas

Brother Lawrence Damien CoS