The great paradox of music in church is that music contains the power to unite voices and hearts, but music is understood from one's cultural context. If our hearts are united to begin with, we will tend to shed our different understandings and feelings about music, and simply enjoy the blessings of unity (which is, to echo the Psalmist, something like a baptism in fragrant oil). If we are not united, we will become analytical, vivisecting the living thing and making pronouncements such as "this is praise", and "this is worship", which might help you a little bit in putting together an index for your hymnal, but have little to do with the actual praise and worship itself.
Years ago we used to label parts of our service as being 'Praise' or 'Worship', pretty much boiling down to the style of song.
I guess, without a agreed definition of 'Praise' or 'Worship', it's a little hard to debate, but these days I simply stick by this:
- 'Praise and Worship are not music genres'
Both Praise and Worship need to be God-focused - and thus overlap. Neither of them need to defined by outward expression either, or are defined by having anything to with music!
Whoever said that you can't play a slow song in an upbeat style, or vice-versa? Might sound awful, but how we each express ourselves in praise or worship is a personal thing!
Thank you! Probably today so many worship leaders (aka chief musicians, praise band leaders, music pastors, etc.) are so ultra-tired of hearing of people saying "this is praise" or "this is worship". Sure, we might say a song has a praiseful or worshipful character, but why talk about it? It's a lot better just to sing it.
Every time I Praise God I am Worshiping Him alone. There is no difference in that sense to me. I think I remember from my childhood hearing old Hymns that were so stirring that they were Praising God and Worshiping Him at the same time. Like some battle songs I guess.
Sometimes I get the feeling that back in the 70's someone with too much free time on his hands, or who loves to sit around and count and separate beans by color and texture, started theorizing about praise and worship with a goal of making life as much a pain as possible for worship leaders. But most of us realize that there are red smooth beans and red rough beans, and white smooth beans and white rough beans, and just let it go at that.