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Music of Many Styles can Point us Toward the Lord
by William Harness


In years past, music was the common bond between denominations. When young people met together at Youth for Christ or at all city sings there would be musical unity regardless of the church represented. As I travel across the country now, churches, even in the same denomination, seem to have their own brand of music.

In recent years, books have been written on how to promote church growth using a formula. The suggestions are dismissing the choir, no longer using the organ and taking the hymn books out of the sanctuary. Instead, they say, use only upbeat praise and worship music with an electronic keyboard, a set of drums and guitar. This trend is going through almost all denominations.

My background in church music came very early. My parents were in the ministry and I was constantly exposed to church music. Having older sisters who played many musical instruments gave me opportunity to be with young people who met in our home for music jams. When the praise music trend started, I was involved in churches that pioneered this arena of music. This helped to give me a love for many different styles of music, and I realize they all have a place in the church. My opinion is that music should be used to bring the congregation to a place of worshipping the Lord and preparing hearts for the message. Sadly, in many churches it is bringing division and causing those who appreciate a different style of music to feel disenfranchised.

The Lord has touched my life through all styles of music and there are many praise and worship songs that affect me deeply. However, some contemporary praise music is written without musical training, often missing the melody, and frequently the text is superficial. A familiar description for these songs is the "7-11" song seven words repeated 11 times. In pressing the new formula on congregations, those who disagree with the contemporary music are told they lack spirituality, and that if their heart was right, there would be no problem with accepting the new music.

There are additional problems for some in the congregation with having to stand for long periods of time. Sitting down draws attention to them, and they feel their spirituality is in question. Many say they deliberately come to church late to miss the music.



In addition, for those who are musically inclined, there are issues with the way the music is written. Having melodies that jump around and complicated rhythms make it hard for everyone to participate. Due to eliminating hymn books, and only reading a screen for the words, the chance for learning to read music is no longer available.

More than a year ago, I went for eight weeks traveling to different parts of the country in various denominational churches, and found I was not able to join in the praise and worship music because the drums were so dominant. The praise and worship team could not be heard, making it impossible to know the melody. Looking around, I noticed very few people singing.

Many churches are struggling with the music issue. Some churches have split congregations by having a service for contemporary music and a service for traditional music. Other churches decide to have all contemporary music and do not seem to care what the more traditional congregation desires. The most harmonious churches I have found are those that successfully blend both styles of music in one service. Having leaders who enjoy both musical styles and who know how to choose praise and worship songs that minister to all ages brings unity and not division in the church. When hymns are introduced as special, not hurried to get them over, but introducing the audience to the depth of the message, it commands a spiritual experience for the young and older generations.

Sadly, we find many pastors and people in music leadership who have put a box around their congregation. There is an emphasis that says anything but all contemporary music cannot minister to their audience. Experience has taught me they are wrong. I present many different styles of music, and the Lord proves to me continually that it is the Holy Spirit who ministers through the music. When music is presented with excellence, and most of all, with an anointing, the style of music presented will reach the heart.

William Harness





William Harness Sacred Concerts, Inc . PO Box 328  . Washougal, WA  98671
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