In the evangelical subculture of my youth, there were three categories of pop music. There was secular music, the avoidance of which was, as with alcohol, a nonessential of the faith. (My parents’ approach was more tight regulation than outright ban.) There was Christian music, the Nashville-industry pop records that we heard on Christian radio during our school carpool and then saved our allowances up to buy. And then there was worship music, which we sang at church.
I will be the first to argue that good church music can be old or new, classical or pop or folk or whatever, content dense or repetitive, celebratory or somber. And as I've pointed out before, the best critiques of praise-band music usually come from within that world, not from outside haters. Anyway, this "How to write a worship song (in five minutes or less)" tutorial from Blimey Cow is a heap of fun.
Some post-worship-war churches revel in musical eclecticism. Others have a singular approach and sound, rendering the terms traditional and contemporary irrelevant.
It's a truism that Christianity lives and breathes as much (or more) through music as through preaching or teaching, to say nothing of dense theological texts--so Christian preachers and teachers should be on the lookout for ways to incorporate the great hymns of the tradition into our sermons, lessons and other theological work.
The hymn "Tukutendereza Yesu" is a staple of Kenya's booming Christian music industry. Across modern East Africa, the song is hard to avoid. But just why is it so successful?
Early Christian writers recognized music's emotional power. Just as often, however, they commended it for its powers of harmony--in both the musical and extramusical sense.
She is foggy, struggling to find the old gifts of conversation. But she knows me, I think. I tell her all of the reassuring things that pastors say in such a setting. "The Creator who has watched over you all of the days of your life is now holding you in those sacred hands." She smiles and struggles to respond with words I barely understand.