Atlantic Caribbean Union

Responses to Series on Praise and Worship

Responses to Series on Praise and Worship

As promised, I am including your responses to the past three articles on Praise and Worship. I consider these responses quite interesting and informative. As such, I thought to share them with you.

“Thanks again Dr. Johnson for your interesting and stimulating piece. An excellent choice of subject for these times. 
“Your article brought many important issues into focus, such as – (1) shifts towards non-traditional praise and worship songs, (2) perceptions of worship enthusiasm, (3) music and Adventist heritage, (4) music and theology, (5) instrumental accompaniment, etc. These are all excellent points for us to consider as we face accelerated changes in our church culture (caused by multiple factors that may be good subjects for future articles). 
“I have taken the time to share this reflection with you because I agree with the concern that we may be changing so fast that our distinctive purpose could be undermined by our growing neglect to reinforce our purpose with songs that speak to our heritage and faith. 
“The question that followed that admission was - Why is this contemporary ‘praise and worship’ still dominant even after we have raised the concerns in your article and have asked our music teams to choose both hymnal songs as well as contemporary songs? 
“This is not my area of expertise, but I will offer three opinions: 
“1. Our choice of subjects for sermons and Bible studies have followed the contemporary path also and, to a great degree, neglected ‘distinctive Adventist doctrines/subjects.’  It is not likely that our ‘praise and worship’ will be able to maintain focus on a heritage and purpose largely neglected by our preaching and Bible studies. Maybe we could challenge ourselves to get our distinctive ‘message’ on the front page again, and our distinctive ‘praise and worship’ will follow. 
“2. The pull to contemporary music is unavoidable since it is a subset of social change. Music preferences change over time (Fact). No getting around it. With many praise and worship leaders being youthful, it is inevitable that they will gravitate towards music characteristic of their era. In some churches, the call for distinctive Adventist songs is made in ways that seem to be prohibiting/rejecting contemporary songs, rather than blending both. Maybe, just maybe, it's time for us to take a few of our most distinctively Adventist and theologically meaningful songs and put those lyrics to contemporary music forms. The tide of change cannot be stopped, but the way it flows may be guided. 
“3. Music connects us to the things we are experiencing and interpreting, and those we aspire for. Contemporary music tends to evoke a sense of feeling (not just knowing) in touch with our current realities. They are the songs fed into our ears via radio, YouTube videos, etc. It's what's filling our attention daily and, therefore, what we have as ready vehicles of expressing our feelings. Maybe we could invest in making and circulating more Adventist heritage YouTube videos, play more of them on our radio and TV stations, stream them, etc. If these heritage songs fill our weekly ‘mental and emotional space,’ then perhaps they will become the vehicles of expressing our feelings, thoughts and experiences when we get to ‘Praise and Worship’ time at church services. 
“Sorry for that lengthy feedback. Just wrote as the thoughts poured in (unedited). Once again, an important subject. Thanks for stimulating some thoughts on the matter.” 

Jeff Jefferson  
“Mr. President, thank you for reminding us of the authors of our hymns.
I had a book of all the Him writers, but I am unable to locate it.
I appreciate your reminding me of the situation under which some hymns were written.
God bless.” -Cecil Cartwright
“Hymn # 403: Let Us Break Bread Together 
When I pastored Englerston, I would change the words to avoid saying, ‘when I fall on my knees with my face to the rising sun.’” -Pastor Lynden Williams.
Pastor Williams sought to point out that we do not worship the rising sun but the Son of God.  My research revealed the following: “As standardized as the text is, it has been subject to numerous alterations in several hymnals. These changes sometimes alter or eliminate the reference to the rising sun, perhaps because it is not literally accurate. Some include: ‘When I fall on my knees, with my face to the Lord of life. . ..’”
“Thank you, Pastor Johnson.  I share your sentiments in singing the old songs of Zion.  It seems we are fast departing from the old path once delivered to us by the saints.” Leona Morris
“Interesting article Sir
I've found that we use praise and worship songs and drums and guitars at crusades to bring them (new members) in, and (we) want to change to church hymnal songs once (they are) baptized!! Their church is used to praise and worship songs.
I also find that so many in the congregation don't know the hymns.
We have changed the focus by our fishing methods. 
Also, ‘praise and worship’ is about change of an era..... The songs are lovely and set a good mood for the service. And it's what everybody does.”  Keith Major
“Great hymns
(They are) only known by the minority of people.” - Keith Major
Thanks very much for this information.”  -Hazel Fletcher
“I really enjoy listening to and singing all three of these songs (We Have This Hope, I Saw One Weary, How Far From Home). -Ruth McKinney
“Amen! Pastor Johnson, we need the return of the (Hymn Festival?) Joint meetings for singing/ learning hymns from our hymn book. Hymn #81 needs to be taught and used.
“Yes Sir. Some hymns have never been used. We should be more inclusive. Even at Song Services, when given the opportunity the same ‘favourites’ are requested. So far, I have only heard the music on the internet for #81. 
Many years ago, this comment was made, ‘I would not like to be the third stanza of a four stanza hymn when the first, second and last stanzas are sometimes announced.’” -Dorothea Ritchie
“Very timely article pastor 
Pastors should forward this to their members, especially the praise and worship teams.
Thank you. Please keep up the good work.” -Reinford L. Trail