Bleed Into One: The Story of Christian Rock

Bleed Into One: The Story of Christian Rock

Posted by on Sep 20, 2011 in Christian Music | No Comments

Wow. I haven’t been this excited about a movie in a long time.

Bleed Into One: The Story of Christian Rock. COMING SOON.

Check out the trailer embedded below! (and thanks to Wes and Zack from American Jesus for the find)

1VOICE Worship Experience

1VOICE Worship Experience

Posted by on Sep 9, 2011 in Christian Music, Worship Music | No Comments

I am extremely excited to be a part of the 1VOICE Worship Experience – a worship night for Chicagoland, tomorrow night, Sept. 10th from 7-10 PM.

Practices have been absolutely amazing. Even for your Christian friends who typically hate Christian music, it’s going to be pretty ridiculous.

Come say “hi” afterward if you can make it.

Check out the details for 1VOICE here.

Christian Music Lyrics as Memory Aids

Christian Music Lyrics as Memory Aids

Songs are memory aids.

It’s how you learned the alphabet. It’s how you learned the 50 states. It’s how you, to this day, still remember the theme songs from every single 90s television show….“Whatever happened to predictability?”

The question is, what are we memorizing with our Christian music today?

Lynrd Skynrd front man Ronnie Van Zant reportedly never wrote down lyrics, and is attributed for the paraphrased quote, “If you need to write them down, they’re not worth being remembered.”

Are we as careful with writing our christian music lyrics as we are with our musicality? Or once we figure out a progression, do we just sing some broad God-language words over it?

Because theologically, it’s the most powerful tool we have.

Singing in The Key Of Singable

Singing in The Key Of Singable

Posted by on May 26, 2011 in Christian Music | No Comments

Phil Wickham is a vocal freak of nature. He is amazingly talented, and able to pull off exceedingly high notes with ease.

You know who isn’t able to do that? Everyone else. That’s why many Christian radio songs get transposed a couple half-steps down in church – to make it easier not only for the congregation, but for the on-stage vocalists to sing.

Which leads to another question I am not confident answering. Who should you pitch the song for? Because Phil Wickham doesn’t transpose his song down 5 half steps so that those singing in the car won’t strain. He leaves it that way, because the song itself is most beautiful that way.

There is beauty in listening to beauty. There is beauty in singing collectively.

To capo or not to capo? That is my question.

Change up Those Hillsong(s)

Change up Those Hillsong(s)

Posted by on May 19, 2011 in Christian Music | One Comment

I’m stuck in a never-ending debate with the other worship leader at my church – in regards to song “tweaking”.

I change up our songs all the time. Little things, mind you. Never melodically….anymore (learned that lesson after unintentionally tricking the audience into singing before I came in with the chorus.) He chooses to stick to what the professionals created:

A) Because they’re professionals.

B) So that those in the congregation, if they’re already familiar with the song, won’t feel like it’s foreign to them.

Those are good arguments. Perhaps I just get sick of playing something the same way 60 times in a row. Perhaps it’s just a boredom issue.

Or perhaps these songs can be improved.

Let’s take the Adele song, “Rolling in the Deep.” If anyone else wrote it, it would be a really good song. In fact, I can audibly imagine the song being done in a variety of ways. All of them good. But, Adele makes that song SING. It’s perfect. By leaving songs the way they are, we’re assuming that each and every single one of them were constructed in the best possible way. Hillsong is a fantastic band that writes fantastic songs. Doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t improve on them. If you hear something in your head, try it. If the other band members in your democracy like it, try it on Sunday.

Help! Hymns are Dying Off!

Help! Hymns are Dying Off!

Posted by on May 12, 2011 in Christian Lyrics, Christian Music | No Comments

Whenever I talk music with older generations, they seem to have this large and visible fear that hymns are going extinct – and that we need to be singing more of them.

No we don’t. You know why? Because most hymns are terrible. Just like most modern Christian music is terrible. How many songs are you singing this weekend that were written in the 90s? Probably none? And those that you sing this weekend, it’s likely that none of them are going to make it 10 years in our playlists.

But, great art survives. There’s a reason every church in America sings Amazing Grace at least a couple times a year. It’s a perfect song. Likewise, there are Isaac Watts and Charles Wesley hymns with such poignant and profound lyrics that they will never disappear.

But bad art dies over time. And it’s a good thing. We’re not anti-hymn. We’re anti-bad.

Intoxicated Christians

Intoxicated Christians

Posted by on May 11, 2011 in Christian Music | 2 Comments

Music is beautifully intoxicating. It has a magical quality that causes people to cry, buy products and frightens many Christians. Sadly, many of today’s church expressions of music seem to lean more to an advertisement for the sermon than a worship experience. Having worked in many of those situations, I understand why it is what it is, but I have also seen it leave people wanting.

There’s nothing wrong with utilizing music to soften the soil for the sermon, but I believe God created us with a desire to soak in music. Think 2-4 songs is enough? How much music do you listen to during the week? We need to offer the opportunity to engage the Most High God in an environment where a person can have a deep and extended worship experience.

I see the two sides of the battlefield forming as I write: Intellectual and Emotional. Don’t fall into that trap, and don’t misunderstand me. God is not stupid. He doesn’t want you slobbering all over yourself while you mindlessly sing. Additionally, I don’t believe we should worship with empty songs. Lyrics matter. The heart matters. We have two sides of one brain. Let’s engage God fully.

Contributed by Matt Larson, Christian Indie Musician

Sing Gaelic Acapella Psalms or Get Out

Sing Gaelic Acapella Psalms or Get Out

Posted by on May 2, 2011 in Christian Music, Church History | No Comments

The Free Church of Scotland is at the cutting edge of the 19th century in terms of its controversies, but it’s current one is bordering on a crisis.

Until recently, I was a member in the Free Church of Scotland; a small presbyterian denomination principally centered around the Highlands and Islands of Scotland. It is staunchly Calvinist in doctrine and traditional to a degree that most people in evangelical circles in America will find startling. In terms of music, only psalms were permitted in public worship out of a genuine fear of singing things which were questionable or erroneous. Psalms were only sung a capella, and in many cases, in Gaelic.

No instruments were allowed and no ‘un-inspired’ songs were sung. Gaelic Psalm Singing was led by a ‘precentor’ who would ‘line-out’ the psalm in a call-and-response style. Then, a few months ago, a Plenary Assembly of the church voted (by a very small margin) to allow both instruments to be used and hymns to be sung should a congregation wish to. One high-profile minister left the church, a group of disgruntled members and office-bearers set about a campaign to have the decision overturned, and the upcoming General Assembly of the church has the potential to be divisive. I was chatting to an older friend of mine who is a notable precentor in the church about the situation. His response was brilliant.

“If you went to one of those places where Christians are being persecuted for their faith, went to a prison cell and said to one of them, “Oh, our church is on the verge of schism just now. I’d love to hear your opinion about it… Should we sing psalms or hymns? And in either case, should we use instruments or not?” the guy would reach through the bars and punch you.”

Fair point. So which battles are worth fighting for? And at what point does the fight become ridiculous?

Contributed by Iain MacKinnon, Worship Leader, Isle of Lewis, Scotland

Nietzche on Christian Music

Nietzche on Christian Music

Posted by on Apr 26, 2011 in Christian Music, Philosophy | No Comments

“They would have to sing better songs for me to learn to have faith in their Redeemer” — Friedrich Nietzsche

For Those Who Think Christian Music Has Caught Up…

For Those Who Think Christian Music Has Caught Up…

Posted by on Apr 26, 2011 in Christian Music | No Comments

Try and find one non-believer who listens to Hillsong because it’s just that good.