this is not my blog, i have copied it from http://churchformen.com/how-were-off-the-mark/why-men-have-stopped-.... Sharing it here cos i believe it is relevant to us who are very much involved in worship.
Why men have stopped singing in church !!
It happened again yesterday. I attended one of those hip, contemporary churches — and almost no one sang. Worshippers stood obediently as the band rocked out, the smoke machine belched and lights flashed. Lyrics were projected on the screen, but almost no one sang them. A few women were trying, but I saw only one male (other than the worship leader) making the attempt.
“Have Christians Stopped Singing?” I did some research, and learned that congregational singing has ebbed and flowed over the centuries. It reached a high tide when I was a young man – but that tide may be going out again. And that could be bad news for men.
First, a very quick history of congregational singing.
Before the Reformation, laypersons were not allowed to sing in church. Sacred music was performed by professionals (priests and cantors), played on complex instruments (pipe organs), and sung in an obscure language (Latin).
Reformers gave worship back to the people, in the form of congregational singing. They composed simple tunes with lyrics that people could easily memorize. Some of the tunes came out of local taverns.
A technological advance – the printing press – led to an explosion of congregational singing. The first hymnal was printed in 1532, and soon a few dozen hymns became standards across Christendom. Hymnals slowly grew over the next four centuries. By the mid 20th century every Protestant church had a hymnal of about 1000 songs, 250 of which were regularly sung. In the church of my youth, everyone picked up a hymnal and sang every verse of every song.
About a decade ago, a new technological advance – the computer controlled projection screen – entered America’s sanctuaries. Suddenly churches could project song lyrics for all to see. Hymnals became obsolete. No longer were Christians limited to 1,000 songs handed down by our elders.
At first, churches simply projected the songs everyone knew – hymns and a few simple praise songs that had come out of the Jesus Movement. People sang robustly.
But that began to change about three years ago. Worship leaders brought in new songs each week. They drew from the radio, the Internet, and Worship conferences. Some began composing their own songs, performing them during worship, and selling them on CD after church.
Years ago, worship leaders used to prepare their flocks when introducing a new song. “We’re going to do a new song for you now. We’ll go through it twice, and then we invite you to join in.”
That kind of coaching is rare today. Songs get switched out so frequently today that it’s impossible to learn them. People can’t sing songs they’ve never heard. And with no musical notes to follow, how is a person supposed to pick up the tune?
And so the church has returned to the 14th century. Worshippers stand mute as professional-caliber musicians play complex instruments, and sing in an obscure language. Martin Luther is turning over in his grave.
What does this mean for men? On the positive side, men no longer feel pressure to sing in church. Men who are poor readers or poor singers no longer have to fumble through hymnals, sing archaic lyrics or read a musical staff.
But the negatives are huge. Men are doers, and singing was one of the things we used to do together in church. It was a chance to participate. Now, with congregational singing going away, and communion no longer a weekly ordinance, there’s only one avenue left for men to participate in the service – the offering. Is this really the message we want to send to men? Sit there, be quiet, and enjoy the show. And don’t forget to give us money.
There’s nothing wrong with professionalism and quality in church music.The problem isn’t the rock band, or the lights, or the smoke machine. The key here is familiarity. When that super-hip band performed a hymn, the crowd responded. People sang. Even the men.
I'd like to chime in. I believe that often the men don't sing because the songs are simply too high for them to sing comfortably. I love Tomlin and the Northpoint guys, and sing many of their songs. But, I often lower the key of the song by a full step or more so that it will be accessible to more people vocally.
I know there's more to it than just vocal range. But I thought I'd include that along with your valid concerns.
Last month I finished my CCLI recording period and discovered that I had sung 74 different songs over the course of 6 months. Two of them I had sung 4 times, 3 I had sung 3 times and 5 I had sung twice. All the rest were single use over the course of 26 weeks.
I asked my wife the question: Is that too much variety? Was that too many songs? I haven't addressed my team with that info and question yet, but actually had planned to do so this evening.
Somewhere there is a balance between staying fresh with vibrant, fresh songs and offering stability and familiarity with repeating songs.
I've heard Bob Sorge (of IHOP Kansas City) say that we sing the old songs to gather us together and we sing the new songs to propel us into intimate worship.
Don't know that I have any specific answers, but it's on my heart right now!!
I finished the CCLI report a month earlier. Of the CCLI registered songs, we had 79. (probably more than half that number were not listed)
Other than one liturgical piece that was done 26 times, there was one song listed 13 times (frequently as an alternate)
We had 15 at 3x, 9 at 4x, 8 at 5x, 3 at 6x and 4 at 7, 8 or 9x. The rest were either 1 or 2x.
It is an interesting statistic.
IMO we (the US church world) have been raised on the top 40 mentality that today a song is the latest and greatest and next week it is an oldy moldy and therefore irrelevant.
That mentality has be dismissed from our ranks.
I think one of the reasons our songs are deemed "throw away" is that many of them are just too simple to keep. How many times can you sing "sing hallelujah" in a year? But hymns, at least the good ones, tend to be thicker and have more to think about. It may take a year just to catch all the nuances.
But it's not so black and white. Melody and musical composition can also get old very fast. And I'm tired of many hymns as well. Fact is, when the Psalm said, "sing a new song", I don't think that only means a brand new song, it also means "freshen up the old stuff from time to time."
Notwithstanding my diatribe about so many current songs being so complex they defy quick learning or memorization (when you learn a song you really memorize it, recalling it with the aid of word-cues, as on a screen), I'd say there is always a place for the good meaty song and for the simple little hallelujah thing (yes, even for the ear-worm, for the Lord created the worm and the nightingale).
Bobwhites may have sung "bob-white" in the Garden to Adam and Eve, and will sing that song their entire lives, and never get bored (unless they do get bored and we don't know it, and life is hell for them!) But people definitely get bored easily, and it seems the more anti-boredom devices we come up with, the shorter our attention span gets for the same of anything.
I do think that our haughty "new is good" culture throws away way too much good old stuff. A few bands recycle old hymns and people love it -- the re-using gives people a place in the larger scheme of things; it presents timeless truth in a way that becomes fresh simply because it had been forgotten, like the NES that my wife and I never stopped using. It takes thirty minutes to warm up now, but once the vertical hold starts working our guests are up and at it, trying to get Mario and Luigi through their course! Some day, of course, the Nintendo will break, and will join my Rambler and Hillman and Vega in landfill heaven; but why not use something that brings joy, like a good song, and to blazes with the sophistication that demands we toss every old thing?
Though there are many reasons to sing songs because of their oldness or newth, Bob Sorge, I think, comes close to the mark for the majority.
Travis, just reading thorough all the comments once again.
how did your team respond to 74 songs in 26 weeks.
just wondering what they had to say?
Thanks for saying those things the way you did, Greg.
I know that some in my congregation worship through the words only, so they don't sing at all - they call themselves "thinkers." They appreciate the songs we sing because they say the things they want to say in a worship context.
I know that as I sing, the words of the song are only part of my worship offering to the Lord. The way I sing it - with skill, style, dynamics, color, genuine smile, genuine tears - is as much or more of my act of worship than the words I sing. For me, worship is a full-bodied response.
Playing a skillful guitar is often the same way for me, too.
Thanks for sharing your heart. Your response here will help me be more sensitive to others on my team and in my congregation.
At Christmas, my pastor handed out awards to the staff, tongue-in-cheek, of course, but he gave me the "I Can't Win" Award. And the certificate read: "The Traditionalists think he's too contemporary. The contemporary think he's too traditional. This award is given to Travis for being willing to shoulder the blame in every musical situation imaginable."
Keep your chin up , Greg!
We play mostly country gospel :)
I'll bet that deep down beneath those Starbucks-sipping smiles your acquaintances are secretly tapping their toes, hindered from physical action only by the invisible cords of coolness, the silent dread that Others may perceive us as backwards.
We play BOTH kinds of music, country AND gospel!
Go Spartans! (Mich St alumnus here)
The football analogy works pretty well. Uncomfortable would be a good word for someone wearing orange and black (OSU Beavers)at a Ducks (UO) rally (and I can't imagine that in Columbus, "OSU" means anything other than whatever Ohio State's team is called - Buckeyes, I think).
Of course, theoretically country gospel, classical, pop, and even California-style Christian musicians are all on the same Team.