Monday morning was a four hour marathon working our way through the entire CCB song list. We were culling. Chopping out the dead wood. And we were ruthless. You may be pleased to know that some musicians were involved in the decision making (not least the two guys who are most involved in overseeing the music).
I’d slept well, which was a good thing. It made me more generous in my assessment of the hymns, songs and spiritual songs that I don’t like! We drank a lot of coffee. We listened a number of times to songs on YouTube. Fanny Crosby’s live material was harder to find. And as you would imagine with four people expressing their opinions there was some entertaining debate. It was, however, carried out in the best of spirits. But it reminded me a little of the dynamic that existed when Rosslyn and I sat down to discuss baby names. Opposition can appear so unreasonable in that context. It often comes down to taste and opinion. And a dearly held attachment to a particular name just doesn’t cut it if the other person doesn’t like it! We were more accommodating in our willingness to allow a variety of musical tastes. Up to a point. Much to my disappointment the others drew the line at Rick Astley. Apparently, anything on the list that could be sing by the eighties pop-meister had to go. No ‘shine Jesus shine’ then.
There were a number of things that surprised me in our discussion.
First, the vehemence of opposition to the pop genre from the younger generation!
Secondly, I was amazed at how many hymns we have in the song list. That’s good thing because the theology of many is so good. Sure, they can sometimes be so theologically densely packed that you feel like you’ve put Calvin’s' Institutes to music. But ordinarily they shy away from the trivial drivel of some contemporary writers. And no, I haven’t got anything particular in mind (though if you gave me a few minutes on YouTube I’d come up with something). It’s just an ill informed rant about the Jesus is my boyfriend genre! Hymn writers tend not to write superficially but deeply and profoundly. And even if the original melody is somewhat dated, in the hands of our extraordinarily competent musos they make it work brilliantly.
Thirdly, I was amazed at just how many songs we have in our repertoire. How many songs would you expect a congregation to sing in a six month period? Go on, hazard a guess. In the six months before Christmas we sang over seventy songs in evening church. And it feels like we only ever sing a dozen!
I thought this was helpful. It’s where we’re at in our thinking. It just ‘happened’ to be published a couple of days after our discussions.