Monday, June 25, 2012

Separation of Church and Music, etc.

Sunday we played at a Black Methodist Church here in Columbus, MS.  It was a unique experience.  There was no "liturgy" per se, but there were aspects of the mass such as the Invocation, Gloria, Lord's Prayer, Apostles Creed, Sermon, Doxology, and Amen, all done with different hymns.  There was a lot of traditional hymn-singing (What a Friend We Have in Jesus, Amazing Grace, etc.).  The choir led the congregation with genuine enthusiasm.  The singing was not always in-tune, but it was filled with joyful praise towards God.  The readings were the stories of David and Goliath and the parable of the talents (Matthew 25:14-30), which was the sermon text.  The sermon was filled with an almost sprechstimme-like vocalization as well as elongated syllables (Lo-o-ord).  It definitely was an emotional experience, and the congregation would respond with Amens and other interjections when they agreed.  "Praise the Lord..." inspired clapping.  However, the content was general and vague, causing the non-church musicians to think that it was a good church for people to attend.  He never mentioned the historical context of a talent being money, but kind of shifted between treating it like money, and talents like playing instruments, and a how we need to do good works as Christians.  He totally left out the part of the Master being a hard man, reaping where he did not sow.  I believe this passage is about evangelism and not about how I should play my oboe because God gave me the talent to do that.  God also gave me the talent to be a glutton.  God is reaping souls, and that's why we need to share God's Word to the best of our abilities instead of hiding the message.  Eventually, the preacher did say Romans 6:23 "For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus."  So, there was the tiny bit of Law and Gospel.  Leave it to St. Paul to balance out a sermon.

Our group did the Hummel Octet, movement 1 for preservice, Haydn Sinfonietta mvt. 2 for offertory, and Haydn Sinfonietta mvt. 1 for postlude.  The music didn't fit in with the style of the service at all.  We played super well and the people loved it.  Music for church is supposed to praise God.  When the musicians are mocking Christian beliefs and the music was written for secular purposes 300 years ago, I don't think we should be playing for a church.  We can't glorify God if the point of music is to solely entertain.

The people were extremely nice and fed us well.  When we were all bored, we practiced singing hymns in four-parts.  We then debated whether fixed-do or moveable-do is a better solfege system.

Have a great Monday!

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