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(A VISION FOR CHRISTIAN SONG, by Ken Bible; p.16)

But there are negative effects. We further addict our congregations to high-energy emotional

appeals. We feed them salt, increasing their thirst for emotional stimulation and entertainment.

More and more, entertainment values saturate our expectations and our judgments of quality.

“Good” Christian music is music that excites and impresses us, whether or not it improves our

lives and draws us closer to the Living God.

With this increased desire for music that emotionally stimulates us, some themes--critically

important themes--are minimized in our songs because they don’t readily lend themselves to

musical thrills. Topics like holy living, prayer, perseverance, and self-sacrifice tend to be edged

out of our church music. I’ve spent over 30 years in church music publishing, and I can assure

you that this is true.

For hymns, the problem grows worse because of a blurring of the line between performance

music and congregational music. Choirs, ensembles, and soloists believe that their music has to

generate enough emotional energy to jump the gap to static listeners and stir them to emotional

involvement. And remember, these are listeners numbed by constant, high-energy sensory

appeals all around them.

Whether performance music actually needs such emotional levels, congregational music should

not need them. The emotional dynamic is completely different. Hymns don’t have to jump a gap

from performer to listener. They don’t need to stir static listeners to involvement. In

congregational singing, performers and listeners are one and the same. As they sing, they are

already physically involved in the music. With performance music, the congregation has to be

jump-started into involvement. In congregational singing, they are already involved. No jump-

start is needed. That involvement advantage, along with simpler tunes, should free hymns to

focus on meatier words.

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