When I was kicking off the return of ‘You Have Heard It Sung,’ one of the message board posts I read regarding the blog was that they would love to get into Christian Music, but they wouldn’t know where to start. I told this user that I would work on putting together an introduction, but the more I thought about it, there are a few things to introduce before we begin talking about which groups to listen to and why. So, this post series was born!
Embracing Christian Music Part #1: Understand the Foundation
To appreciate any type of music requires an ability to appreciate and/or understand the sounds you are hearing. We will always have a particular style that we enjoy more, and that will influence which songs we listen to, but this does not change whether or not we understand or embrace the song we are hearing. Can you think about the last CD(MP3’s) you bought or listened to? I think it is a safe bet that you like the style of music you chose, but you did not enjoy every song.
This makes sense because when you listen to a song, the average person relies on the style of music to serve as an anchor for whether or not we will even try to hear the message the performer is trying to bring us. You might think that I am making an argument for picking the right style for enjoyment, but if it was just the style, we would listen to every song on the disc with equal amounts of excitement. If you are like me though, only certain tracks really catch your attention. This is because the MESSAGE of the song breaks through the catchy tune that is accompanying it, and when we relate to that message, then we will look forward to hearing the same song again.
So since we are talking Christian Music, I would like for you to think about the hymn, Amazing Grace. The song is so meaningful that even many non-believers enjoy hearing the classic song. The first line of the hymn just hits anyone who listens with a powerful thought; ‘Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a Wretch like me.’ Without a mention of any specifics about this grace that is doing the saving, we all have down days that are so bad we feel like no one can redeem us. It’s a concept that hits the redeemed, unrepentant, and unreached alike. As we listen, we hear thoughts that relate to struggles we all face, such as; ‘Through many dangers, toils and Snares, grace will lead me home,’ or ‘I was lost, but now I am found through this grace.’
Here we are, then, with a great song that has significant appeal to both Christians and non-believers alike. The tune does not come from a very popular genre these days, as we cannot even get all young Christians to embrace the style of classical hymns. And yet, Amazing Grace would be an exception, and would be a tune most people will hear and listen to if they hear it again. The MESSAGE of the song is just connecting! This is what music does. A song with a good message will connect to those listening.
Where does this wonderful song get its rather wide reaching message? SCRIPTURE!
You will not learn the concept of incredible grace that reaches the most lowly lives without the Gospel message. The only salvation for any of us is found in Jesus. So, here we have the foundation of Christian Music, the Bible!
For any song to be considered a Christian Song, its message would need to have an anchor in the Bible, the source of Christian teaching. There are some songs that just put passages of the Bible to music and then there are some songs that sing about Christian theology or Christian practices. There does not need to be a mention of God for it to be a Christian song, because a song that used the Bible as its basis will point to God. The main requirement that cannot be ignored is that the song’s message MUST align with the messages of the Bible. Without this, a song may be positive, but a song that is contrary to God’s word is not in line with Christ, and therefore it should not be considered Christian music.
I would also like to offer one more note of personal clarification. Songs styles themselves are not Christian, but rather they will be used to speak to the beliefs that are held by those who proclaim Christ as Lord. There is no type of music that cannot proclaim the truths of scripture or the teachings of God’s people. This is why there are rap songs, rock songs, and lullabies that all can be considered Christian Music. You may hear messages better in one style or another, but I would strongly encourage you not to limit God in your minds and hearts by saying some genre cannot be used by Him. Think of it this way, if God can redeem any kind of person, He can speak to any kind of person in a way that will reach them, which includes any form of song.