Monday, January 18, 2010

Give Us Songs Men Can Sing

Here is another interesting quote from Gaines Dobbins’ The Churchbook from 1951. The call for music which allows congregational participation, and particularly allows men to participate was timely then. From appearances it was not largely heeded. It is timely now as well.

“Our church songbooks contain some splendid hymns, and also some which kill a congregation’s enthusiasm. From the psychological angle, a good song is one which has harmony and a stirring rhythm which lends itself to untrained male voices, as well as to graduates of conservatories of music.

Recently, I have been visiting various churches for the purpose of observing their music. Just from my listening to the half-hearted singing in many of them, I have felt sorry for the congregation, since many of the men were really trying to participate in the music but couldn’t because it was so difficult or so lacking in a strong, essential rhythm. It would be a great boon if our churches limited themselves to a few dozen of the good old hymns in which people can really participate. For church music should be sung with delight and gusto, so that the very walls almost burst outward with the hearty music. Churches need more men’s music. …

Effeminate hymns, too often employed today, handicap the clergyman, kill the interest of the congregation ….” (163-64)

2 comments:

Paul Clark said...

Sadly our attempts to make worship "attractive" have resulted in music that is more performative than participative, robbing the congregation of its primary means of voicing its praise and ennunciating its worship. Thank you for joining the chorus of those who are asking for better songs and better singing that we may join in the liturgy of praise and worship.

Ray Van Neste said...

Thanks for stopping by Paul!
I appreciate your work on this as well.