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Steeple Newsletter

First Church Reads: Music Through the Eyes of Faith

A book came out in 1993 that redefined my approach to church music. Every few years I reread it to remind me of ways in which I could better serve church music and this summer in Coronaville seemed a good time to revisit "Music Through the Eyes of Faith" by Harold M. Best.

by Bill Speed on July 01, 2020

If you want to read the full Steeple Newsletter for July 1, 2020, click here. 

"First Church Reads" is a new feature section of the Steeple where staff members or members of the church may be invited to offer book and formation recommendations that specifically help deepen spiritual life. This week we have a recommendation from Bill Speed, Director of Music Ministries. 

Music Through the Eyes of Faith

This book will help answer some questions you might have about why your Music Ministry is directed in certain ways. Why in one worship service might the Senior choir be singing "Iyo hlonolofatsa" (a South African song, "Bless everything in the name of the Creator!") after the Cherub choir sings the Tom Chapin folk song "This Pretty Planet" and before the organ plays a 20th century French toccata to send people out into the world?

"We should cherish diversity because God does...God is the Lord of the plethora the God of the diverse the redeemer of the plural.  Likewise God calls for response in different languages dialects and idioms...[Pentecost tells us that] God does not want to be limited to Christian rap or Pakistani chant. God wants to hear the whole world in its countless tongues and amazingly diverse musics making praise after praise." (pp 66-67)

Harold Best writes from a different theology than the UCC: more conservative and creedal his God language written 27 years ago is not gender inclusive. But his concepts are translatable: he places music and musicians within God’s creation discusses how Christian musicians approach the concept of quality within worship and the function and need for music within worship.  I’ll close with some other fun quotes from the book that might tease you into reading some music theology this summer...All musicians and artists turn to their creator and to the creation observing God at work — creating riotously popularly seriously multi-idiomatically lumberingly elegantly humorously profoundly prickly and smoothly.  Then they must go back to their keyboards easels potter’s wheels and choreographic charts and do the same. (p. 26)... Can one music be better than another? Musical value is strongly context dependent. To conjecture that Bach is better than bluegrass is one thing but to perform one of his fugues in the middle of a hoedown is another. (p.106)

Hope to see y’all at our next sacred hoedown in the sanctuary once this plague has passed.

Bill Speed, Director of Music Ministries 

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