Monday, April 13, 2009

Singing and Making Music: Church music as entertainment?

One of the musical books I am going through right now is Dr. Paul Jones' "Singing and Making Music: Issues in Church Music Today", a collection of essays on church music by the organist and musical director of 10th Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia. (Thanks to my friend and co-laborer in musical service at WPC, Dan Joner, for lending it to me.) I will be posting quotes and perhaps some commentary along the way.

"When music in church becomes entertainment, it is objectified as "an event". It turns into something to watch, a spectacle. Such events are necessarily detached from the immediacy of being something in which we are involved. Other worship elements can be treated this way, too. Pastoral prayer can be an aural "spectacle" if members of the congregation are not praying along with the minister. But perhaps more than with spoken prayer, music becomes something done for us instead of being done by us. This disconnection may be amplified by the music-suffused society in which we live (music in the malls, restaurants, elevators, etc.--when it is a mindless backdrop for other activity). We thus become desensitized to music in a public setting, as something in which we are not involved as "doers"--whether we are listening or singing. This musical alienation is a danger prevalent in services with soloists and even choirs--that the parishioner views music as an event he is watching or to which he is listening as a bystander instead of a participant" (Paul S. Jones, "Singing and Making Music")

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