Music for Worship: What's In, What's Out; What's Hot, What's Not

Speaker: Categories: Oct 10, 1992


[1hr, 19min, 17sec / 23min, 20sec]


"Music hath charm to soothe . . ." it is alleged. Recent articles in denominational publications and other sources would suggest that the music in many Adventist worship services today is doing little to "soothe," but rather irritate, Adventism.

In a September 5, 1991, Review editorial, Eugene Durand noted that though we might find guidelines for music for worship today in the historical biblical record, it would be impossible to find a model for such music. It was his observation that the music used in the Israelite worship services would be far too loud, far too non-harmonic, far too non-rhythmic, far too dissonant to satisfy (or soothe) our western ears.

Yet the psalmist admonished his readers, "Make a joyful noise unto the Lord," Psalm 100: 1 (KJV), "Shout for joy" (NIV), or "Shout with joy" (TLB). And that "joyful noise," noted Durand, was often accompanied by instruments: trumpets, pipes, harps, tambourines, drums, and cymbals. Should our worship services use similar instruments? (Please note that most of the instruments named might be classified as percussion type!) Would it not be better to restrict our instrumental accompaniments to the more "sacred" instruments, piano and organ? And what about guitars, even electronically amplified -- or synthesizers?

Jeff Kaatz, recent chairperson of La Sierra's Music Department, suggests that their faculty panel would like to explore with our San Diego Forum what makes music an asset to worship and how various types of music affect the worship experience. He observes that the role of music and worship varies from denomination to denomination and, to a large extent, within each denomination. "Often musical tastes for worship," he suggests, "are determined more by tradition, and less by education." This writer might also add "and even less by theology!"


All are members of the faculty of the Music Department at La Sierra University. Their training and expertise are varied, including specializations in voice, organ, wind and percussion, and strings. Some serve as musicians or directors of music at SDA and non-SDA churches. They are all professionals, dedicating their careers to understanding and performance of that which should "soothe" the soul. More formal introductions will be made on October 10.

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