We have satellite radio reception in my car. I particularly enjoy some of the jazz stations that are available. (I don’t understand jazz, but I like to listen to it.) I am intrigued by one station which carries the label “Escape.” But the periodic description by an occasional announcer captures my imagination. He says, "This is the music of your life.”
I am immediately intrigued by that description. Because he is exactly right. The music is that which undergirded and underscored many of the early decades of my life—ballads, a few crooners, big bands, ensembles, and many others. The music is mostly instrumental—which I like while driving. I don’t know them all, but I remember (and can mouth some of the words to) many of them.
I am convinced this could be a parallel to the reason I find it difficult to worship in some contemporary worship settings. I was raised in the church on the hymns of Charles Wesley (“Love divine all loves excelling….”) and Isaac Watts (“When I survey the wondrous cross…”) I even find nurture in a few of Fanny Crosby’s compositions (“Blessed Assurance, Jesus is mine.”) I don’t always understand or totally support some of the theology of these hymns, but I find familiarity and worshipfulness in singing them. They represent the “music of my life.”
I walked into worship this past Sunday a tad late—during the opening hymn—and found I could sing the last two verses without opening a hymnal and trying to locate the page number. I liked that!
I realize that some of the hymns I find meaningful were also “new” and “different” for those who first heard them in generations (or even centuries) long past. I know that some of the tunes were secular folk tunes or even drinking songs for the people to whom they were introduced. Still, they remain the music of my life. They bring me into sense of worship and into the presence of God. Particularly the opening and closing hymn.
I do not object to what is often called “contemporary” music. I only know that I cannot truly worship as the drums beat, the acoustical guitar blares, the saxophone wails, the hands clap, and the feet move. This is simply not the music of my life or my experience of the God revealed in Jesus. I do not deny a positive impact on others; just not for me.
I suspect that this is what happens for some of my generation as well. Not anger. Not ridicule. Not really objection. Just a sort of disconnect—happening in the very experience where “connecting or re-connecting with God” is precisely what I seek and need.
Tuesday, September 23, 2014
WPA Commission on Archives and History