18 July 2009

Higher Things Praise Band in Action

New and improved version from Sola-Grand Rapids. Pardon the sideways perspective; it's about the music. (Just turn your notebook 90 degrees and all is well.) Maestro Loemker rounded up a handful of professional musicians to play alongside our youth musicians.


University Lutheran said...

As an aside to the subtle sarcasm of this blog posts' title, I would like to ask a humble question. When does song or instrumentation become illegitimate for church use in your opinion and becomes the stuff of...well...the "other" praise bands?

in Christ,

WM Cwirla said...

This is a very good question. Opinions vary. For me, it's not a matter of instrumentation as it is the ability of the instrument to carry corporate congregational singing and the music to serve as minister to the text.

In the grouping pictured here (I was in attendance at this service, btw), the principal instrument was a digital organ that emulated a decent sized pipe organ. While there is nothing particularly "sacred" about the pipe organ (it began as a theater instrument), the pipe organ is uniquely suited for corporate singing with its principal ranks matching the range of the human voice and ear, and its wide variety of voices to interpret the text.

The choir served to undergird the corporate, congregational song by introducing the somewhat unfamiliar melody and supporting the corporate singing.

The brass and percussion added to the majesty of the Te Deum as a majestic hymn of praise. Of course, the music was classical in style, taken from Holst's The Planets.

I'm not sure I would use the term "illegitimate" to describe a musical style, song, or instrumentation. I would rather use the term "appropriate." Some forms or instruments are more appropriate than others.

In my experience, worship led by a pop band tends to be "sing along with" singing at best. It is difficult to follow the somewhat improvised vocal lines of pop music (also rock and folk). Hymns are uniquely constructed for corporate singing "all together."

BTW - no sarcasm, subtle or otherwise was intended. There is clearly a band and the hymn was a hymn of praise, the Te Deum.

Reformationalist said...

Hi William,

"...Of course, the music was classical in style, taken from Holst's The Planets...." You mean Gustav Holst, the Deist? Indeed, Holst who was expressing his Deism in his masterful "The Planets."

When does the intentionality of the composer come into consideration when we are compiling musical resources for a Divine Service, Matins, Vespers, und so weiter?

This issue, it seems to me, entails both the realm of text and the realm of tune and arrangement. I must say that LSB 941 carries my mind swiftly from the page to the composer, to his "faith," and to his creation, which leaves me quite distracted from joining the versification of the Te Deum.


Robert. [Schaibley]

WM Cwirla said...

Sure, like Beethoven's Ode to Joy, of which precious few pew sitters know of the Daughters of Elysium of Stiller's joyful poetry.

Truthfully, not being a lover of classical music, I had no idea where it came from and no nothing at all about Holst personally. The tune therefore took me nowhere at all but to the text and the triune God extolled by the Te Deum. Sometimes it pays to be low culture, doesn't it?

Like how many people think of Captain Kidd, the pirate, when they sing What Wondrous Love is This? even though the tune Wondrous Love was originally a song about pirate Robert Kidd?

WM Cwirla said...

On the other hand....

One of my youth counselors did confide that the Holst tune did take him back to his younger years when he worshipped Jupiter.

Bethany said...

Actually, whenever I hear the Ode to Joy tune in church I do mentally start singing about the Daughters of Elysium auf Deutsch. I find Pastor Winters's use of the term "illegitimate" and assumption of sarcasm strange. Historically speaking, it's been the Reformed who have found certain instruments illegitimate (as not explicitly referenced in Scripture), not Lutherans. As Pastor Cwirla notes, the idea historically has been to find music appropriate for carrying the text - the Word being the important thing as parishoners confess the faith to each other while receiving the Word back through the ear. I have a theory that concern over the instrument itself relates back to the development of a romantic idea of listening in the French and Anglophone world of the 19th century alongside the development of Wesleyan and American Arminian revivalism which made the type of music important to produce emotional responses likely to elicit certain actions on the part of the worshippers. Granted, the connection to a romantic conception of listening is just a theory at this point, but I think it may have some merit. It would depend in part of speed of tranmission and reception across language and ocean barriers.
Bethany Tanis

Iggy said...

It is not unusual at all for a secular tune to make its way into our hymnody.

"What Child Is This" is the first that comes to mind.

JS Bach embraced the secular opera style of his day for his cantata on "Wachet Auf." While the chorale tune is unique to the text, the supplemental solo and duet music style is definitely borrowed from opera!

The questions to ask, as already pointed out, are ...

*Is the text substantial?
*Does the tune fit the text?
*Does the instrumentation assist the congregation in their singing?