Church · Music · Psalms · Worship

The Record Can Skip at Church

One thing I enjoy is spinning vinyl. Over the years my record collection has grown. My love for the LP isn’t due to the recent fad by skinny-jean-flannel-wearing-modern-day hippies. As a kid we had a record player. My parents would play Christmas music on it, and I still have several of those records like Bing Crosby’s Christmas album in my possession. One of the greatest childhood memories would be decorating the tree while we listened to Bing belt it out through the large black speakers, while the crackle in the background could be heard sporadically. Now I am playing 30 centimeters of bliss in my house, and my hope is that my children will find the same enjoyment in this medium.

Not everyone enjoys records, and one of their flaws, which is why we moved to the digital format, is skipping records. I have to say, a record that skips and can’t be fixed is one of the banes to my existence. This is one reason some churches have written off modern worship music. While we can discuss much about modern music in the church, one thing that many hate is how some modern songs frequently repeat themselves. To some people it feels like a waste of time, as if listening to a skipping record.

The argument becomes something like, “Singing through a chorus three or four times is pointless, because it tends toward making people into drones.” Or, “It’s not creative enough, and not deep enough.” I guess you could fall into the mold of checking out while you sing a repetitive song, but if that’s the case, have you really never done that with any other song you sing? But before we discard songs with repetitive choruses, let’s think about them another way.

God has called us to meditate on His word, and therefore His truth. Psalm 19:14 says, “Let the words of my mouth and the MEDITATION of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer.” Psalm 104:34 says, “May my MEDITATION be pleasing to Him, for I rejoice in the LORD.” Philippians 4:8 gives us a list of things to “think on” or “dwell on” when it comes to the characteristics of Who God is and who He has called us to be.

I think in some ways, American Christianity has discarded the idea of meditation. We have two strikes against it. First, it sounds to much like religious practices of those that would do Eastern meditation. But this kind of meditation is different than the one God is calling us to. Second, we don’t sit still long enough to meditate. We always are going somewhere, or are distracted by something. Because of this, meditation is the least of our worries.

My contention would be that when we are singing a song that might repeat a chorus several times, don’t think about it as droning on, think of it as meditation. A song that is repetitive usually allows us to focus for more than one line on a truth about God or His greatness.

Second, while it isn’t the staple of Psalms, realize there are times that Psalms repeat themselves. Psalm 136 declares, “for His steadfast love endures forever” 26 times. Are those who are against repetitive music ripping these pages out of their Bible?

Or how about when we read in Revelation 4 that four creatures are eternally praising God without ever stopping, “Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come!” I can just see the mustard-suit-dressed Christian’s forehead vein popping now just thinking about it.

Do I want every song, or even most songs at church to have those repetitive choruses sung? No, probably not. It would lose its effectiveness to do so. But let’s be careful not to discard a song just because it is repetitive. For God Himself gives several examples of how there are appropriate times to worship this way.

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