The Way of the Visionary

Featuring Paul Baloche Posted on February 1, 2010

There have always been true visionaries—those who catch sight of a new move of God before others see it. The visionary feels a great urge to do that thing the Lord has shown him—and do it right now. So he starts out boldly and soon finds himself the target of sticks and stones hurled by those who don’t understand.
Stories abound about the church’s resistance to new music forms:

• The first monk who experimented with part-singing was excommunicated.

• J. S. Bach almost lost his job as a church musician because some
thought his music was unsuitable.

There have been some weird excesses that seem amusing to us today.

• In 1715 John Tufts tried to do something about the sad state of hymn singing in the Puritan church. Since musical instruments had been forbidden, everyone just sang the psalms (only the psalms were allowed) together without regard to the time or the pitch of anyone else. “Some sang too high,”Tufts wrote, while others sang “too low, and most too long.” When Tufts proposed that they all sing together, he stirred up a storm. The older Puritans said unison singing “robbed praise of its individuality and threatened them with the religious formalism they had rejected under the Church of England.” It would be “a ceremony without unction or the inspiration of divine grace,” “Papish,” and “a worshiping of the devil.” When one congregation persisted in the New Way, some parishioners put cotton in their ears.

• In 19th Century Scotland, Ira Sankey, Evangelist D.L. Moody's great song leader, was vilified by some for writing "human hymns" with newly composed lyrics instead of new tunes for the Psalms of the Bible, and for having the audacity to draw attention to himself by singing them as solos.

• Moody also caused a furor by having the singing accompanied by
the hall's great pipe organ. One woman stormed out of the meeting
shouting, "Och! It's the divil's instrument! There's a demon in ivery

Want some more? Take a look at this: (Thanks to the Worship-and-Arts Network)
Top Ten reasons for Opposing the New Music Trend
Adapted from a statement directed against the use of hymns, in 1723

 1. It is too new, like an unknown language.

 2. It is not as melodious as the more established style.

 3. There are so many songs that it is impossible to learn them all.

 4. It creates disturbances and causes people to act in an indecent and disorderly manner.

 5. It places too much emphasis on instrumental music rather than on godly lyrics.

 6. The lyrics are often worldly, even blasphemous.

 7. It is not needed, since preceding generations have gone to heaven without it.

 9. It monopolizes the Christian’s time and encourages them to stay out late.

 10. These new musicians are young upstarts, and some of them are lewd and loose persons.

Even in our own time, those of us who have tried to change church music have often been misunderstood. The way of the innovator has not always been easy. Of course, willingness to persevere in the face of criticism sometimes is laudable. Criticism does have some value as a gauge: if we’re getting no criticism at all, even from the “staid guardians of sterile orthodoxy,” as A.W. Tozer called them, we probably aren’t accomplishing much that’s fresh and new and powerful. On the other hand, if we’re getting a lot—especially from those who have walked with the Lord much longer than we have—maybe we need to back up a bit and listen. There’s always the possibility we’ve gone too far too fast and we’re over the line. Jimmy says, “Been there. Done that.” He has memories from his younger, experimental days, of elders complaining to the pastor, “It sounds like a nightclub in here!”.


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