Hollywood or Holiness?
Take it to the Streets
Tags: Church Growth, Church Growth Movement, Church growth consultants, worship leader, Long Beach State choir, Bach, to God be the glory, Frank Pooler, The Carpenters, Karen Carpenter, Good Night, The Beatles, Saul, Paul, Damascus, whole tone scale
Is it true that those
Christians who sing out in the so-called secular world are less spiritual than those who
practice their craft in church? Not at all! In fact, idol worship is just as prominent
among church musicians as it is in the world. Few have escaped the call of idolatry that
The admonition to all musicians who are Christians, therefore, is: Who is being worshipped here? Every musician is a worship leader and it is therefore the musicians responsibility to use the gifts that he has been given for the purpose of worshipping the Creator. People tend to worship the musician. This has consistently occurred throughout the ages. No musician has received more adulation throughout the centuries than Bach. Yet to remember that to Bach it was to God be the glory is the key to understanding what the musicians responsibility is. Fame can actually be a good thing if the resultant notoriety results in the glorification of Christ.
When thinking of Christian musicians being
effectively used in the world I am reminded of my college years at
Fortunately I was a music major. The music department provided me with professors who did not hesitate to talk about Christianity. In the vast myriad of music history, theory and ear training classes we studied the progress of Western music which was founded in many ways upon the Christian belief. In our progression through this music, my professors would continually convey to their classes the rich Christian history that related to the study.
But there was no venue that influenced me
to the degree that the
But to my surprise I was invited to the first choral rehearsal. As it was, it was not a rehearsal at all, but even another audition. It was merely another opportunity to go through the whole painful whole-tone ordeal once again, but this time in front of the entire group.
Somehow I managed to make my way through the process and found myself with an assigned seat right in the middle of the baritone section. I still can remember the first time Pooler fired up the choir. It was just an exercise that we sang, but what I heard was the most stupendous thing I had ever had the privilege of being a part of. Suddenly and without notice I found myself surrounded by the most beautiful voices imaginable singing what seemed to be flawless harmonies blended perfectly together. I then understood that there was meaning behind the whole trial that Pooler put us all through as I sang among singers with voices that new how to sing and ears that knew how to hear. And so with each rehearsal and performance over the next four years I would step into that room in awe, well knowing that I was in a very unique and special place. It was there that I and many others learned the value of musical excellence. And, as many of Pooler's disciples have done, I have carried this quest after excellence with me as I assumed church musical leadership roles to the blessing of many parishioners.
One instance of particular value to me
occurred as we were learning a choral piece entitled Saul. Pooler took the
opportunity to explain the text, which described the conversion of Paul. Paul was dead set
on going to
In the same manner, from that point on the words why do you persecute me? continued to ring in my head and remain with me this day. This declaration from the Bible, as introduced to me by a faithful Christian choir conductor, was of the utmost value with regard to my own conversion. For one day I found myself madly driving to the home of some Christians I had been arguing with regarding the existence of God. I was mad as could be and was heading back in order to deliver more of the arguments that I had formulated. My intent was to humiliate them. God had other plans.
You cannot see the mountains very often in
Poolers influence went further than just one individual. One of the baritones in the choir who sat nearby had an incredible amount of talent and Pooler would regularly use him at the piano to accompany contemporary music choral arrangements. Every time he played, the young choir member completely captivated me with his musicianship as he moved up and down the keyboard with skill and ease. Then one day Pooler brought up the young mans sister to sing the Beatles song Goodnight while declaring, Wait till you hear her sing! The shy alto seemed to saunter up to the front of the choir rather timidly, but when she opened up her mouth I found myself completely captivated. I had never heard someone sing with such honesty, clarity and purity. The song reached right into my heart.
These siblings were Karen and Richard
Carpenter and within a year from that day they were well on the way to success. The pop
dual came from a solid Christian home and you could tell it by their music selections
whose lyrics consistently reflected wholesome values inundated with virtue. Their hit song
Weve Only Just Begun rose up as a mainstay of weddings all over
I therefore thank God that these fine professors chose to give of themselves in a way to proclaim the Gospel through music in the midst of an antagonistic environment. Quite frankly, this is Christian service at its finest and where Christian ministry really occurs. Hence Jesus proclaimed, Go into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature. (Mk 16:15b MKJV)
1. The whole tone scale is a progression of notes that go up the scale in full steps only (no half steps). The Impressionistic music of Debussy demonstrates the beauty that can be found in the use of this scale.
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