New Worship Music…the power of variety

I've been a musician for most of my life…I had the honor of learning how to play guitar while in college sitting around big fellowship events mimicking learned guitarists.  Soon I learned enough to form my own bands…enjoyed and was blessed beyond measure traveling and playing with some talented and wonderful people sharing songs and events that lifted up the Kingdom of God.  I even had the opportunity to do some recording in the late 70's and share stages with some pioneers in the Christian music "genre" back in the late "Jesus movement" days.  Then I made a call for my life…in the early 80's, I changed course and spent significant time retooling my musical passions to focus on music that would be part of a faith community's life in worship experiences.  Of course, in those days, the literature was limited to Maranatha and Vineyard songs…then, the floodgates opened in the late 80s.  Hosanna Integrity, Tommy Walker, Hillsongs, Baloche, Tomlin, Crowder, Smith and the list goes on and on with more and more people attempting to write music that would enhance a person's and a community's growth in the worship value in the journey of following Jesus.  There have been many who have (rightly at times) criticized worship music over the past decades as infantile and more "adolescently-driven" (that is, lyrics that sound more infactuation based than honoring in terms of language) than substantive in theological depth and "helpfullness" in enhancing a transformational worship experience.  But here's my quick take – simple choruses have their place…and even the songs that experess the "I love You's" have a place at the music literature table primarily because of the fact that many followers of Jesus in more traditional settings have not had their worship "imaginations" shaped by these profound expressions of worship.  I too, honor and love traditional hymnody for its power in shaping not only lives but minds…so, I'm a "variety-driven" worship music person…we can encourage a young person with a  simple song…challenge people of all ages with theologically steeped melodies…even find a place for contemporary musical expressions (that being, music being penned NOW by passionate and gifted people – a list of which is what fills CCLI's lists).  Yet, I've recently been "grabbed" by some new "hymnody" being written, performed and released to worship leaders of faith communities by Stuart Townend and the Gettys from Ireland.  I'm attaching a video for you to get a "feel" for some of their music.  I don't know who brought these songs to my attention…I remember singing "In Christ Alone" over the past couple of years.  Of course, I believe Delirious released that song on a recording…I didn't know who was behind it.  Then somebody, one of my Facebook pals, pointed me in Stuart's direction.  Let me tell you as I finish this post…this music has been VERY HELPFUL in my context because it is a great genre of music that bridges the divide between choruses and hymnody.  These songs are substative and they are singable and playable within a contemporary context.  Hey, we have people in our faith community who love hymns and who also love the old "contemporary" worship choruses (circa 1970-80's Maranatha and Vineyard choruses)…these songs work for both.  I would encourage you to check them out especially if you are a music or worship "leader"…very helpful and very much a blessing to the worldwide "movement" of Christ followers across the lands:


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