08 October, 2008

The Eight

If you're over 40, you like the old songs. A lot. That's why there's so many oldies stations.

I noticed that this morning. I don't listen to the radio, and I do run with the windows down, so I hear a lot of stations over a month. I recognize the music rolling out of the windows of people my age. The Boomers are redefining the layout of the radio band as much as they are anything else, and I like it when they drive by because I get an instant warm feeling from whatever song they're currently ignoring.

And it makes me wonder stuff.

Are we hardwired to learn and like music in our teens, and after that everything we like requires extra concentration? I learned to like classical in my early 20's, and it still doesn't give me a warm fuzzy.

And I learned Camptown Races and She'll be Coming Around the Mountain (with variations) and others as a child, and they're still a part of my repertoire. There's hardly any cause to sing such songs any more, but they used to be a common language across generations according to popular American myth.

Amazing Grace is like that, or it was before it fell into complete disuse. These days you hardly hear it except on the bagpipes in movies that want to create instant grief. Just as I Am used to be one of those. I still wish it were around. It's probably my favorite sentiment, and statement of grace upon which I most rely. I chose it for my wedding 20+ years ago, and still love it.

It seems to me our churches are making a profound mistake by not perpetuating the common language of song. There should be (let's say) 8 songs that are sung at least 4 times a year, and everyone should be required to learn them. Anyone who is a member of the church should be able to sing these 8 songs, at least the 1st and last verses, without an overhead, hymnal, or karoake prompter.

Simple reality teaches me that the older folk ain't going to learn the new songs easily, so if we want the barrier to entry to be low for them, we should give the benefit of the doubt to an older hymn over a newer alternative.

What would your 8 songs be?

(Over the next week, I'll be at a conference in Wash DC, so I might actually be able to comment on this thread! WooHoo! Vacation!)


eclexia said...

1. And Can it Be?
2. How Firm a Foundation (I love how it spells out specific Scriptures from that "firm foundation" in each verse of the song.
3. Be Still My Soul
4. A benediction/blessing song. My preference would be "Go Now in Peace" by Nancy Price and Don Besig. It would be new to most people, but it's got great words and the tune is not complex. If it needed to be already familiar, then "God Be With You"
5. Jesus, Name Above All Names/Emmanuel
6. The Steadfast Love of the Lord
7. As We Gather
8. The Great Thanksgiving. It's a musical arrangement by Mark Miller to the liturgy my church uses for communion. We don't sing the communion liturgy every month, but I love it when we do.

And I'm all for learning every verse of every song. I know it's a lot, but I don't like it when key parts are chopped off. I like your idea of having eight really solid songs, in between all the other variety.

Interestingly, I could hardly notice the message to Just As I Am, because all I hear is the Pavlovian emotional/manipulative connection. Thanks for causing me to back up and hear it for the affirmation it is.

And, finally, you got me thinking I'd like to focus on the eight songs that I think would be a good solid core, with my kids. I'd really like for them to learn all of these, over the next year or so. Right now, we're learning a Welsh evening hymn from the Presbyterian hymnal.

Kansas Bob said...

In no particular order..

Here are my Hymn picks that folks should learn:

1) The Lord's Prayer
2) Power in the Blood
3) It is Well with my Soul
4) All Hail the Power of Jesus' Name
5) Amazing Grace
6) We Walk by Faith
7) A Mighty Fortress is our God
8) Christ the Lord is Risen Today

Here are my Chorus picks that folks should learn:

1) Isn't He
2) Blessed Be Your Name
3) The Steadfast Love of the Lord.. to agree with eclexia.. although I think that this is more of a chorus than a hymn
4) Jesus, Name Above All Names/Emmanuel.. agreeing again but think it is more of a chorus
5) I Stand in Awe
6) Everlasting God
7) Forever
8) Shine Jesus Shine

Of course it is all moot if the Holy Spirit isn't leading you and present in worship.. might as well be singin along on one of those Oldies radio stations.. which can sometimes be good for your heart :)

Milly said...

We actually still sing some of the oldies, surprise for us CofC folk. ;-}

I learned about classical when I was in the womb. I carry an opera CD in the car for when I need to belt one out. I grew up listening to music, my mom thought that it was an important part of our lives. I also listen to sermons in the car. Oldies nope, I listen to other stuff.

• The Old Rugged Cross
• Amazing Grace
• It Is Well
• Just As I Am
• Just A Little Talk With Jesus
• Eye On The Sparrow (No surprise here if you’ve read my blog)
• Nothing But The Blood
• O How I Love Jesus
• How Great Thou Art
• How Great Is Our God
• Holy Ground
• Here In This Place
• Wonderful Merciful Savior
• What A friend We have In Jesus
• Jesus You’re My firm Foundation
• I’ll Fly Away
• I Know My Redeemer Lives
• Trust And Obey

So I can’t just do eight and some may not exactly be oldies. If I had more time I’d have more. I have books within arms reach and easy worship on the computer. ;-}

I like In My Heart There Rings A Melody but haven’t heard it since I left that small town Christian Church.


We try to mix the oldies and the newies for a balance.

codepoke said...

I am a silly, silly man!

I thought going to a conference would mean I had a little time to myself? What COULD I have been thinking. :-)

The first night was incredibly touching. 10 women stood up and shared their stories of abuse, and the congregation prayed in small groups for them and for the people on their hearts. In one case it was women driven to near suicide, in another it was the church's opportunity to reach out and pull these women up, in another it was prayer for the abuser himself. 10 stories, all of them rich and true and all of them giving glory to Christ.

You can check the subject out at http://www.peaceandsafety.com

It's "peace and safety in the Christian home" on Google if I've gotten the URL wrong.

Now, I didn't get to bed until 4:00am last night, and I'm giving up. I LOVE all your choices for songs. I can't wait to crib all your answers and call them mine. :-)

More tomorrow.

Lynne said...

Eight traditional hymns? hmmm ..
(You realise of course that we Anglicans run two services on a Sunday morning, one traditional and one contemporary?)
1.A mighty fortress (Luther's song, and such a stirring declaration!)
2. Rock of Ages (ok, I LIKE it)
3. Jesus lover of my soul (and as much other Charles Wesley as you like to add)
4. When I survey (a hymnology that doesn't include surrender at the foot of the cross is definitely lacking)
5.O the deep, deep love of Jesus (one of the most comforting hymns ever written0
6. The 23rd psalm (when I was taking services in a nursing home a few months ago, this was the one these people approaching death loved the most. That made me take a fresh deep look at it)
7. What a Friend we have in Jesus (my grandmother's favourite, and a strong reminder to pray)
ok, this is where it gets difficult
a resurrection hymn?
one about the church ?(eg Glorious things of Thee are spoken, or the church's one foundation)
a communion hymn?
abide with me?
just as I am? (not coming out of a tradition that was always issuing altar calls, to me this is a hymn about my ongoing spiritual journey, and I SO love the last verse!)
something triumphant, like Crown Him with many crowns?

you really mean I have to stop at 8?

Milly said...

Cowboy if you're sleeping at night. . . You just ain't doing it right.

I never get a good night's sleep at those kind of things but I come home feeling so good.

*A good worship leader will find a good mix of songs.

Because Milly can't stop

Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus