Sacred music - anyone else need a break from all the heavy world events?

There are so many great versions of Amazing Grace that I was surprised how much I enjoyed this one today when it came on my local jazz station. For your consideration: Hubert Laws on flute.

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I’ve always found the typical upbeat rock music that they use for the Christian songs annoying after a while. Maybe it’s how the lyrics are always the same, or maybe it’s the beat, but regardless, this one sounds very good, gives you more of the “heavenly” feel.

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Yaasssss, Mark. I do need it (a break from all the heavy stuff). Thank you.

It’s good the way Johnson uses good in this poem, which I can’t say right:

The Creation
James Weldon Johnson

And God stepped out on space,
And he looked around and said:
I’m lonely—
I’ll make me a world.

And far as the eye of God could see
Darkness covered everything,
Blacker than a hundred midnights
Down in a cypress swamp.

Then God smiled,
And the light broke,
And the darkness rolled up on one side,
And the light stood shining on the other,
And God said: That’s good!

Then God reached out and took the light in his hands,
And God rolled the light around in his hands
Until he made the sun;
And he set that sun a-blazing in the heavens.
And the light that was left from making the sun
God gathered it up in a shining ball
And flung it against the darkness,
Spangling the night with the moon and stars.
Then down between
The darkness and the light
He hurled the world;
And God said: That’s good!

Then God himself stepped down—
And the sun was on his right hand,
And the moon was on his left;
The stars were clustered about his head,
And the earth was under his feet.
And God walked, and where he trod
His footsteps hollowed the valleys out
And bulged the mountains up.

Then he stopped and looked and saw
That the earth was hot and barren.
So God stepped over to the edge of the world
And he spat out the seven seas—
He batted his eyes, and the lightnings flashed—
He clapped his hands, and the thunders rolled—
And the waters above the earth came down,
The cooling waters came down.

Then the green grass sprouted,
And the little red flowers blossomed,
The pine tree pointed his finger to the sky,
And the oak spread out his arms,
The lakes cuddled down in the hollows of the ground,
And the rivers ran down to the sea;
And God smiled again,
And the rainbow appeared,
And curled itself around his shoulder.

Then God raised his arm and he waved his hand
Over the sea and over the land,
And he said: Bring forth! Bring forth!
And quicker than God could drop his hand,
Fishes and fowls
And beasts and birds
Swam the rivers and the seas,
Roamed the forests and the woods,
And split the air with their wings.
And God said: That’s good!

Then God walked around,
And God looked around
On all that he had made.
He looked at his sun,
And he looked at his moon,
And he looked at his little stars;
He looked on his world
With all its living things,
And God said: I’m lonely still.

Then God sat down—
On the side of a hill where he could think;
By a deep, wide river he sat down;
With his head in his hands,
God thought and thought,
Till he thought: I’ll make me a man!

Up from the bed of the river
God scooped the clay;
And by the bank of the river
He kneeled him down;
And there the great God Almighty
Who lit the sun and fixed it in the sky,
Who flung the stars to the most far corner of the night,
Who rounded the earth in the middle of his hand;
This great God,
Like a mammy bending over her baby,
Kneeled down in the dust
Toiling over a lump of clay
Till he shaped it in is his own image;

Then into it he blew the breath of life,
And man became a living soul.
Amen. Amen.

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How do you define “heavy stuff” in sacred music?

I was thinking more of the pandemic, Putin and our social division as the heavies. Music can provide a little room for the soul to breath. I fixed the title to avoid giving that impression- I hope.

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This reminds me of some lyrics from Bokonist rituals from Vonnugut’s novel Cat’s Cradle. I’ve always thought if there was a religion that could draw me in I would be that one.

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I just haven’t gotten to Vonnugut yet. Cat’s Cradle might be a good place to start. Thanks! I fell in love with this poem, as well as the rest of the collection in “God’s Trombones” in high school. “Young man, young man, your arm’s too short to box with God.” Gorgeous, powerful imagery. Thanks for the music and redirect.

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Okay–that makes sense.

It’s amazing that it is so popular and that so many are clueless about the words and their truth. (They’re heavy. ; - )

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Dale the words are rich.

Rebellious Baptist teens sing it to the tune of Gilligan’s Island or House of the Rising Sun.

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Pretty funny … in a naughty way.

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We thought so. That was racey for us.

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Man…I feel like I’m levitating!

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Dale, the words are so encouraging. Thanks for putting them there. I wouldn’t mind treating this hymn like so churches used to do mixing and matching texts with melodies of appropriate meter. This melody has never been my facorite. However, it would go with lots of blues melodies, which would be perfectly appropriate.

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Well put.
….

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In high school one of my best friends was a German exchange student, who introduced me to Hermann Hesse’s Siddhartha, agnosticism (in his case, I think it was really a polite form of atheism) and gorgeous music I would not have found without him. He gave me this album for my 17th birthday, because I was a Christian. I had no real idea what it was about, because I had no experience with liturgy or Latin, although the liner notes had translations. The music was too moving to just set aside. I still have the album. It speaks even more to me now than it did then. The Kyrie is often on my mind for so many many reasons. I hope you find something wonderful in it, too. You can find it here:

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I wish I was moved by music. I’ve never been a big music person. Essentially never been to a concert or anything. I don’t think I ever even owned a band shirt. I played the snare for 5 years and really enjoyed it. But even then I preferred the practice rubber pad and being alone in my room practicing. Sometimes I think of learning keyboards just as a hobby to eat up time but I’ll never do it. Not no where at interested or motivated enough to do it.

I felt weird listening to the podcast by “ Recovering Evangelicals “ when one of the men hosting it brought up the spiritual connection to music that we “ as humans collectively “ feel because that’s definitely not me. I mean I enjoy some of the darker piano soloist parts and i sometimes feel the urge to listen to something by Nightwish or some other band. But I’ll listen to a song or two and then turn it back to podcasts or just roll down the window. I also basically only listen to music while biking or driving. I guess I like it as background noise when I’m trying to down out general thinking. Just this humming in the background to help fall into a “runner’s high”.

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What we connect to or not is different for each person, no better or worse. I could never participate in many of the things you show pictures of from your adventures outdoors. But your delight in the Creator and his work just blazes out from your photos and the way you describe them.
I don’t know if there is a way to develop a tighter connection to music, if one thought to do it. I wouldn’t stress over it.

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I guess the biggest reason why is because in service almost everyone seems so connected and happy to be singing and listening to songs. Sometimes when riding some of them will start singing and clapping and others join in and they all seem to really enjoy it. While I always a blued with it. Wishing it was over. I’ve left services before because I noticed they had like 10 songs listed and mentioned a extended worship service snd I was like yeah no… and just leave lol. It’s not a big deal but I’ve always recognized I was a bit put off by music indie and outside of church. Like even as a teen others would all meet up and just sit around listening to music and not even hardly talking. I would make it like 2-3 songs and just be bored to death and bounce.

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I understand some of your frustration about music in church, although I like music a lot. (Even though I rarely have music turned on at home. I often make more than enough internal noise.) Some years ago we were at a church that put a lot of emphasis on performed music and a showy “worship team.” Every week, I felt like, “Can we just get to the sermon, already?!”
The church I grew up in had a strong history of congregational singing, well supported by a piano and organ. The musicians were good, but the emphasis was on supporting the congregation’s worship in song, and we sang songs with great content. Because of the church’s culture, the congregation was also skilled at singing together. They had been training weekly for generations. So, there was a lot of pleasure (for me) in being able to really participate in worship that way.

We are going to a church now, where ALL of the music in service is to support the congregational singing. No “special music” i may mot participate in. The musicians are excellent, but they are not there to “perform” but to provide a scaffold to support the non-professional congrgational musicians in sung worship. It’s a deliberate and effective model I’ve never quite seen before, AND it seems like the congregation as a whole loves to sing together. For those who are not enthusiastic about it, I think there no more than 5 hymns in a service, only one af a time, and only in response to something that just happened at the pulpit (prayer of confession and assurance of forgiveness, for example). The hymns are carefully chosen to respond directly to what just happened at the pulpit. So, if someone only read the words and focused on that, the hymns would still be meaningful.
It’s good to know that some of the things we take for granted just don’t speak to everyone the same way. Itks easy to get carried away with our own “thing.”

What speaks to you in church service? Or outside of it?

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“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” -Colossians 4:6

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