How I Learned To Love Modern Praise Music


Photo credit Jubilee Christian Center

Every once in a while, a man needs to do an about-face and admit that he was wrong.  Mark your calendars, because you’re going to hear me do it today.

I’ve decided that modern praise music isn’t so bad after all.

No, really. I’ve been thinking about it, and I’ve decided that there are some good points to the modern music you hear in church services today.

  1. There’s No Deep Thinking Required – Horatio Spafford put far too much effort into “It Is Well With My Soul”.  There are six different verses, it’s written with a bunch of “thee”, “thou”, and “thy” that are archaic in today’s parlance, and  the more you read the verses the more you’re tempted to try to understand what it means.  Compare that with “Our God is an Awesome God”.  It’s only 22 words long, and for the most part you just sing it over and over until everyone gets tired or the worship leader calls an audible and changes the words.  You can almost sing it without paying attention at all.  For maximum effect, use the live versions by Michael W. Smith or Darlene Zschech.
  2. It Builds Muscle Tone – About 20 seconds into any modern praise song, it’s common to see people start lifting their hands to the sky like they’re doing a celestial bench press.  This helps stimulate blood flow, works the triceps and shoulder muscles, and keeps the shoulder and elbow joints limber.  The elderly and those with arthritis problems can reap extra benefit from this holy, low-impact workout.  For those who want to “take it up a notch”, use 2 lb. barbells and pretend that you’re handing Jesus the baton in a 4×100 relay.
  3. It’s Environmentally Friendly – Have you ever seen the number of hymnals in the backs of the pews?  All that paper didn’t grown on trees, you know.  The Greatest Generation may have thought nothing of tearing through forests like Kleenex at a snot party, but this is 2011 and we take environmental stewardship a little more seriously.  Rather than spend $5000 on hymnals made from 100% non-recycled pre-consumer product, spend only $3000 on a projector with a mercury-free bulb, hook it up to the sound man’s laptop, and shine the lyrics on the wall behind where the choir used to sit.  As a side benefit, you can use that same projector to play Rob Bell’s NOOMA videos or “Fireproof 2” when Kirk Cameron gets around to filming it.
  4. It Opens The Talent Pool Of Available Musicians – Not every church has a 70-year old organist who can keep both hands and both feet coordinated on a vintage pipe organ with two separate keyboards and a 3-octave foot pedal board.  For that matter, most churches are running short on people who can read music notation.  Many modern praise songs – like most songs by The Monkees, The Ramones, and Justin Bieber – can be played by anyone who can handle three basic chords on a guitar.  It’s too bad that Bo Diddley didn’t write praise songs, or all you’d have to know is how to strum an A.
  5. It Benefits The Hearing Impaired – If your church is like my church, there are a few people with hearing issues who are always asking the sound man to turn up the pastor’s volume.  With an average SPL (Sound Pressure Level) of 95 decibels (roughly equivalent to a textile factory in 1950), modern praise music can be heard by all generations with equal fidelity.

There it is.  I had to put aside my cynicism to see that the praise music glass is half full, not half empty.  One big helping of mea culpa with a side order of crow.

Next week:  How I Learned To Love Rob Bell.