Do you personally like the music you find most effective for leading worship?

To what degree is your attraction to the music a criterion for selecting it for the congregation?

Do you lead in styles you don't particularly care for, and to what degree do you find yourself growing to love the music you once didn't like?  Is growing to like a song a regular process in your life?

Did the conflict of personal taste with community taste ever produce a crisis in your life, and how was it resolved, or was it resolved, and how did you grow from that?

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A little bit of a rabbit trail...

Somehow the words "apocalyptic" and "Daniel" brought up old Spirituals, which are very popular in this country.  Sometimes the theology is inventive, to say the least, but the music is either upbeat or hauntingly beautiful, and they have the advantage of being written by black people (slaves and their descendants, and the occasional white person imitating the style).  This makes them "politically correct", so they didn't get scrubbed in the great pogroms of the 70's-90's, when religious music was theoretically banned in most of our public schools in the US.  (Christmas Carols have also survived, since most lawmakers and judges have seen Miracle on 34th Street).  (Oh, also anything by Bach or Handel is OK, at least in Oregon/Washington).

But the great thing is that all the sweety sappy dreary pedantic church music that bored us out of our gourds has gone to become boxes and Dixie cups and such (both in public schools AND churches). What we have left is some of the coolest music.  Our teenagers love to sing, in concert, in public school -

Who will be a wit-ness for my Lord?  Who will be a wit-ness for my Lord?

Who will be a wit-ness for my Lord?  My soul is a witness for my Lord...

(and verses follow about Daniel and a warning about Samson, etc.)

And some day they will be overseeing our churches.  And Adele does not have a monopoly on our future.

To keep the rabbit trail going...  Greg, I have a feeling you might enjoy a talk by Andy Crouch which I downloaded from here:

It has lots in it that should be of interest to the worship leader and is worth listening to all the way through.  But he starts with some music of the type to which you refer.  He also has some interesting comments on the theological difference between AAAB and AABA forms of music....

Is it available anywhere outside the evil empire, or am I going to have to use iTunes for the first time ever if I want to hear this?

I'm afraid that is the only place I know where you can download it :-(  Obviously I now have a file somewhere on my computer, but there will be some smallprint somewhere saying I can't distribute it....

His book, "Culture making" is pretty good too.

Is anyone here actually capable of playing podcasts, or do we just hear a few broken words and watch hourglasses?  I've never actually seen a song in AAAB, though AABA is used in a huge number of hymns and contemporary songs (though extended - AA is the first two verses with chorus, B the bridge, and A the return to chorus (or third verse if there is more text to convey).  Since my player will not do the Duke series, I'll have to imagine how AAAB might be used, theologically:

Jesus died upon the cross

For us to gain, He suffered loss

What wondrous love, how great the cost!

Consider, friend, such grace...

Perhaps I can get into Duke U. by some other route and listen to Andy Crouch, whose works I've read a bit and admire.

To be honest, all I can remember is that I successfully downloaded his talk a year or so ago, on iTunes, and listened to it a couple of times on my iPod!

I can't remember precisely what he said about the AAAB / AABA format.  But, in terms of lyrics, and structure within a verse, the lyrics you quoted would be AAAB:

Who will be a wit-ness for my Lord?  Who will be a wit-ness for my Lord?

Who will be a wit-ness for my Lord?  My soul is a witness for my Lord...


And his point was that the sting is delivered at the end of the sequence, so it has the feeling all the way through of waiting for something to happen (so, the eschatalogical parallel is that we know something is going to happen, but we are not there yet...)

Whereas, he says that AABA is more suited to going for a walk in the English countryside.  We start comfortably (AA), we might go out into the rain for a bit (B), but we return to the comfortable fire and a warm tipple at the end of the day (A).  So, culturally it is quite a different beast.

To caricature a bit, AAAB comes out as a reaction to oppression, AABA from English gentility.

Wow.  That is jaw-droppin' ORSUM!

Truly.  What a simple, conveyable illustration about the power of word order, or the order of ideas.  Sometimes in songwriting, I would find that if I could put my meaning-word at the end of the sentence, it gained power; but I couldn't phrase the concept so succinctly.

You can't like every song you do and still be effective and edifying to a large audience of people. When I took the reigns, I started picking songs and deleting others. I picked some good stuff and got rid of some junk, but it all started to sound the same. Then my team started bringing some really good stuff to me and it really helped us out a lot. Diversity is good.   

We do one song I can't stand because of one line - "Knowing You" - and the chorus goes like this:

"Knowing you, Jesus; knowing you, there is no greater thing

You're my all you're the best You're my joy, my righteousness

And I love you ,Lord"

You're the best? Really? Is this the Leave it to Beaver show?

I won't ever suggest getting rid of the song because it has good theology and it's kind of a long time favorite of the congregation. But "you're the best"? Oh come on! And I don't particularly like the musical aspects of it all that much either. 

So for me - there will always be songs that you don't like even if they're all in the domain of good and have good theology.

Now if I had to do too many that were distasteful to me, I would certainly quit. But since I get free reign to build the repertoire, I'm satisfied. But I do live in some small amount of tension since there are a few songs I don't care for - songs that the congregation loves.

Oh, gee, you're the best, my Pal, my BFFE, the Man Upstairs!


The slightly naughty side of my humour thinks of that song as "all I once held darlin'". I certainly don't hate it, but it's not one I'd automatically reach for either.

I quite like the song.  But the tune does remind me a bit of "the ugly duckling".


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