For What it's Worth

by Stan Mitchell
music-notes.jpg“They sang the song of Moses the servant of God and the song of the lamb” (Revelation 15:3)
Jerry McDade and his wife were out walking one Sunday morning when they heard singing so beautiful that they just had to stop and listen. Both were from the Church of England, and had heard beautiful choirs sing. What made this so startling was that it was congregational singing. Ordinary Christians raised their voices in adoration with such feeling that it compelled visitors to come in. It wasn’t long before they were baptized into Christ.
Some time ago I was in a church building that had a screen in the front where words were projected for songs without printed music. This seems to be a brotherhood-wide trend. I spoke to one of the members and this is what he said: “We might as well have only the words to songs. Most people can’t read music anyway.”
I thought: “When did we concede the point?”
I know this is only a preference, but permit me, please, to express one.
You must remember that I have worshiped many times in Africa with neither hymnbooks nor multi media capability! For most African congregations meeting on a rock under a tree, hymns on power point is not a controversy.It’s not the technology that worries me.
As a song leader, I am afraid we will lose our capacity for congregational singing. We need to train our young people to sing. We can develop our own ability further. We can learn new songs. There are singing schools that would benefit our young people greatly. It is important to remember our objective. We aren’t training members to sight-read Gregorian chants or Bach’s quartet music. In congregations across the land, however, we have always had this ability; when a song leader introduces a song, there have always been enough members with the ability to pick out the harmony so that the new song takes hold and becomes a part of our worship in song. That’s a precious heritage indeed.
And one more thing. A century ago, when the organ was brought into churches of Christ, the reason given was: “Our singing is so bad that this will improve it.”
I never want that to happen to this fellowship that I love again, do you?

2 Replies to “For What it's Worth”

  1. Stan: My sister-in-law in Lake Jackson, TX, doesn’t know you personally and was not aware that we know you so well. She is thrilled with your scriptural viewpoints and has been regularly forwarding them on to me. May I request you use the above address and put us on your regular mailing list? Just read your
    article on singing and I personally don’t object to the overhead projector with the words up there — I feel we can sing better if we lift up our heads as well as our hearts (and not “bury our heads in our hymnbook”). The problem is —
    overhead or no overhead, how do we get everybody to sing??? Or do we have to wait till heaven for that to happen? All for now – Love in Christ, Donna

  2. Stan,
    Thanks for the article. A few months ago we began a singing class once a month on a Thursday night. Those few who have attended have enjoyed thoroughly learning how to improve our singing. However, most show no interest in coming. It is sad that it is so difficult for people to be interested in growing in singing praises to God.

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