Saturday, August 10, 2013

re: Classical music at church

re: classical music at church

I understand that many, many churches now use "Christian rock" / "Praise music" instead of hymns. Most of it is pallid feel-good stuff I can't stand. At least the equivalent that the black Gospel churches do is interesting to listen to.

The Mormon church still uses mostly 4-part hymns with a hymnal and an organ accompaniment, so people can listen to at least quasi-classical music and work on their part singing. At least half the hymns are stodgy old-timey songs but the other half is pretty good--there's even one harmonization by Bach, and some gorgeous Thanksgiving hymns dating back to the 17th century.

On the other hand, I attended a Catholic funeral a few months ago and the music comprised us all listening to a soloist accompanying himself on a guitar. Our job was just to sit there passively. And the music was "modern" Praise stuff. It wasn't bad, I have to admit, but I missed the "audience participation" element.

In the 19th century all the churches had good stuff--lots of songs about Death and our Eternal Reward or Punishment. They got serious. But now that death has gotten so less frequent and so more explicable, church music--even in mainstream Protestant churches--has gotten to be more what I'd call Happy Face music.


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