A Different Sound In Music
By Youth Division of the UPCI
God loves music! From the beginning of the first civilization, musicians have had their particular role to fill. The first musician mentioned in the Bible was a man named Jubal (Genesis 4:21). He was the inventor of the harp and organ, and was famous for his ability to play them.
This was quite an accomplishment for one who had never heard music before. However, he must have had a good teaching technique, because these instruments were played all through the Old Testament.
Everything God provided for mankind had a purpose. Man’s reason for even existing was primarily to worship the Creator. God contributed the musical talent to help man express himself in his worship. The ungodly have abused and misused this talent, so that now most of the music played is inspired by Satan, and is written to satisfy the carnal, lower nature of man.
A Heartfelt Worship Is Sometimes Noisy
But it has riot always been this way. The time had come to bring ark of God back to the midst of the Israelites, and much planning done prior to this great event (I Chronicles 15:1-29). Everything to be just right! Singers and musicians were appointed to accompany ark and three kinds of musical instruments are named: the psaltery, the cymbal. There were three choirs, led by Heman, also played brazen cymbals. What a beautiful as the ark was borne on the shoulders of the priests to the place of honor prepared for it. Their excitement and joy can be felt in I Chronicles 15:28 “Thus all Israel brought up the ark of the covenant of the Lord with shouting, and with sound of the cornet, and with trumpets, and with cymbals, making a noise with psalteries and harps.” Pentecost has always been noisy!
One of the most impressive services in the Old Testament where music was involved was at the dedication of the temple. Solomon had built it unto the Lord (II Chronicles 5:1-14). We have never had an orchestra to match the one they had that day. Besides all of the cymbals, psalteries and harps, there were one hundred and twenty trumpets. It must have been beautiful. But the thing that gave this music the “different sound” was that “the trumpeters and singers were as one, to make one sound to be heard in praising and thanking the Lord; and when they lifted up their voice with the trumpets and cymbals and instruments of music, and praised the Lord saying, For he is good; for his mercy endureth for ever” It was at this point in the service that God completely took over. The house was filled with a cloud, so that they could not minister nor proceed. The glory of the Lord had filled the house, giving approval and blessing to this edifice for which the people had sacrificed to build for Him.
It is interesting to read the incidents in the Bible that caused a song to be written. Moses wrote a song after crossing the Red Sea, thanking God for the deliverance of his people (Exodus 15:1, 2). David composed a song in mourning for the death of Saul and Jonathan, and another for the death of Abner (II Samuel 1:18, 19; 3:33). Deborah and Barak wrote a triumphant hymn after the defeat of Sisera (Judges 5:1-3).
B Good Sounds Today
There are various sounds to Pentecostal music today. The thing that makes it distinctive and different is the attitude of worship that is involved. The lonesome sound of the beating of a drum becomes music to the believers in India, and they sing and worship the Lord to their heart’s content. In South America, many of the songs are sung in minor keys, and are accompanied by strumming guitars. The late Brother Andrew Urshan in his personal worship sang the wailing Hebrew psalms, and it was beautiful. The slow minor keys made a sound of lamenting. It was worship! True worship. Pure worship.
Even in the United States, there are various types of music. The southern states are known to sing fast, faster, and fastest. But this does not mean that their worship is any less meaningful than that of their brothers and sisters in the far north, whose tempo is slightly slower. It’s all music from the heart, and this is the king of worship God wants.
“Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord” (Ephesians 5:19).
“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord” (Colossians 3:16).
C Rhythm, Yes!
A tremendous change has taken place in the world’s music in the past several years. From the “boogie” and “jazz”, we have progressed to an almost indescribable style that has captured the minds of young people the world over. Rock Music. Wild, loud, uninhibited in feeling, it has become quite controversial even among Pentecostal youth. “Is it right or wrong?”, they ask. “It’s just a different type of rhythm.” But is it really?
God is not against a “beat”, rhythm, and good timing., Born in every one of us is the inclination to clap the hands, or pat our feet in time with music, and to keep step with a marching band. The universe is a great example of God’s rhythm. The sun, moon, and earth are all placed in the exact location to each other. Each one rotates in its orbit at just the right speed, and have not varied at all since their creation.
D Rock, No!
But good rhythm, and a good beat is far different to what’s involved in Rock Music.
The President’s Commission on Pornography published its technical reports last summer, and in the first volume was a study of the effect of music upon young people. A survey of unwed mothers revealed that the rhythms and lyrics frequently evoked romantic feelings which they did not suppress, and eventually led them to the sad situation they were in.
A former leader of a rock and roll band expressed concern with the apathy of many Christians in regard to hard rock and roll which, he feels, is responsible for sweeping teenagers by the millions into drug addiction, sexual permissiveness, and revolution against authority.
The first problem is the words used in most rock and roll music. The teenage minds are being saturated with songs that take permissive attitudes (some even advocating) toward the use of drugs and obscenity. The hippie philosophy of life is glorified. Most adults fail to under-stand the implications of rock lyrics, but teenagers are alert, and the meanings are clearly understood.
The second problem is the performers themselves. Most all of them live immoral lives. Many take drugs and advocate the legalization of marijuana; those who are not hippies themselves usually endorse that mode of living.
The effect of the rock and roll beat gives on a total feeling of loss of restraint. The throbbing syncopation, the lyrics and the style of the hard rock singer gives one a feeling of freedom, of letting go.
Acid rock is no doubt the most evil form of rock music. It is drug-oriented and contains phrases that allude to taking drugs, or “tripping out.” An acid freak who was converted told of “flashing back” to previous trips and even hallucinating on just the music. Some believe there is a similarity between the psychedelic mind-blowing
of LSD and rock music when it is loud enough and listened to long enough. The beat of rock music captures body and mind, and causes the mind to be receptive to the suggestions of the lyrics.
E Jesus Christ, Superstar: An Analysis
One controversial record is the rock opera, “Jesus Christ, Super-star.” Brother A.L. Clanton, Editor of the PENTECOSTAL HERALD, wrote his feelings and concern about the record to the editor of the ST. LOUIS POST DISPATCH:
‘To the Editor:
I should like to comment up n the Rock Opera, ‘Jesus Christ Superstar.’
Since this opera is supposedly based upon the Bible, it should be true to the Bible. This it is not.
It presents a distorted, erroneous picture of Jesus Christ, making Him a man, and no more than a man. It overemphasizes His humanity; in fact, this is all it emphasizes, while completely ignoring His divinity.
Further, it makes Judas the real hero, instead of Jesus. It falls into the well-known error of those who excuse Judas� betrayal by portraying him as turning Jesus in so that a crisis would be precipitated, thus forcing Jesus to lead Israel in an uprising against their Roman conquerors.
Where convenient, the authors are scriptural; in other places, to put over their erroneous ideas, they change the scripture, add to it, misquote it, misinterpret it, etc.
In view of all those, I do not see how any Christian can accept this opera.”
The writers of “Superstar” admittedly believe that Christ was a revolutionary and humanitarian and not the Son of God.
Another misunderstood record is, ”My Sweet Lord”, by the Beatles’ George Harrison, who is not a Christian but has been a Hindu since 1967. He is not singing about Jesus, but “Lord Krishna,” a Hindu deity. The song concludes with Hindu prayer chants.
These examples of rock and roll music having a religious slant are just two of many. Acceptance of this type of songs makes it easy for the “taint” of rock and roll to slip into our church. We must not identify with the music style of the rock culture. The teenagers who come to us from liberal environments are looking and listening for a different sound. Were they to walk into some Pentecostal church services, the music would sound at times no different to that of their rock culture, except for the words. We should listen to the lyrics of every song, and make sure that the ultimate purpose is to magnify Jesus Christ, either directly or indirectly through our lives. It is for this purpose that God has given 4is people the ability to make beautiful music.
And He loves it! “For thine is the kingdom, and the power and the glory, forever, Amen.” (Note: Perhaps it would be appropriate at the end of the class to sing several times “worshipfully” this last line of the song, “The Lord’s Prayer.”)
This article “A Different Sound In Music” written by The Youth Department of the United Pentecostal Church in Hazelwood, Missouri is excerpted from their book What In The World Is Right?.