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Message started by TheDonald on May 12th, 2017 at 3:19pm

Title: Modern Praise Choruses Vs. Old Hymns
Post by TheDonald on May 12th, 2017 at 3:19pm
When I was a pastor, I was eager to find hymns and praise choruses that many people love to sing which enhance their worship experience and the possibility of connecting with God through worship.  My problem was the clash in musical taste between older people who typically prefer traditional hymns and the younger generation who typically prefer modern praise choruses.  Some of you might be interested in my preferences and I'm certainly interested in the spiritual music you prefer.  I will begin with 3 modern praise choruses that I really love, but which are far from the most popular. 

(1) "Better than a Hallelujah" (sung here by Amy Grant) has poignant lyrics that I love:

(2) "Who am I?"  has beautiful poetic lyrics that send my spirit sparing.   I can't understand why it is not more popular with church music directors. What do you think?

(3) "He Reigns" (Newsboys) has repetitive lyrics that are not as deep as my first 3 choruses.  But it serves as  a wonderful opening chorus to put attenders in a mood to worship:

Title: Re: Moder Praise Choruses Vs. Old Hymns
Post by TheDonald on May 12th, 2017 at 4:51pm
I'm now adding to my personal favorite praise choruses, 3 that are far more popular and are indeed among the most popular praise choruses:

(1) "Revelation Song" (Kari Job)

(2) "How Great Is our God"

(3) "10,000 Reasons"

Title: Re: Moder Praise Choruses Vs. Old Hymns
Post by Lights of Love on May 12th, 2017 at 4:53pm
Hi Don,

"Better than a Hallelujah" is one of my favorites, too.  I also liked "Here I am"

A few of my favorites:
"I Believe"

"In Your Presence"

"I Look to You"


and this lady also sings this beautifully

Title: Re: Moder Praise Choruses Vs. Old Hymns
Post by TheDonald on May 12th, 2017 at 7:19pm
Let me shift now to more traditional songs that I use on special Sundays during the year.

(1) Mother's Day will soon be upon us.  One of my quirks was to having my congregations sing "Precious Memories" on this day.  The recent passing of both my parents makes me weepy sentimental when I sing this song:

(2) Hope Sunday:  Another of my quirks was to have the congregation sing "Whispering Hope" on The First Sunday of Advent, usually the last Sunday of November.\

(3) If we forget about "the best music" and instead focus on praise choruses that awaken a deep longing for Communion, "This Is the Air I Breathe" is hard to beat.  I often used it on Communion Sundays:

Title: Re: Modern Praise Choruses Vs. Old Hymns
Post by Uno on May 13th, 2017 at 2:52am
O Holy Night by The Mormon Tabernacle Choir

Title: Re: Modern Praise Choruses Vs. Old Hymns
Post by TheDonald on May 13th, 2017 at 3:15pm
In the late 1990s, I pastored a 2-church United Methodist charge in the Finger Lakes region in western NY (gorgeous country!). My pianist organist died, and (without consulting me) one church hired a new music director, who turned out to be a gay, Jewish jazz group leader (about 30) from Rochester with a cocaine addiction, who was just looking for extra cash. I thought Jon would only stay a few months, but he stayed for many years, long after I left to pastor a church in distant Buffalo. People would urge me to confront Jon about his lifestyle, but I resisted on the grounds that I was afraid that would just drive him away. Many years later John asked me to return and participate in his baptism. The Holy Spirit spoke to Jon through our worship and he eventually toned down his lifestyle, gave up drugs, and became a devout Christian. What made his presence particularly touching is that our church was conservative, not open and inclusive, and yet, they grew to love Jon so much that our elderly women would drive up to the gay bars in Rochester to support his band (freaking out the patrons!). Keep this in mind as background for my first posted hymn.

Neither church featured modern praise choruses and I was quite ignorant of them back then, but I sensed a need to enliven our worship. One day, as I was walking a few miles down our highway in beautiful scenery. I silently asked God for guidance on this matter. Suddenly 2 songs began to play in my head, as if I had a cassette recorder in my brain: "Dwelling in Beulah Land" and "Lily of the Valley." I vaguely recalled "Lily of the Valley," but was quite unfamiliar with "Dwelling in Beulah Land." I must have heard it as a boy at a church camp meeting. But how could I suddenly recall the lyrics of these unfamiliar songs? It felt like divine revelation.

I tracked down the music and showed it to Jon. To my surprise he adored both songs and promised to play them in next Sunday's singing. The result was absolutely electrifying in one of my 2 churches My other more sedate UM church liked them, but didn't go bonkers over them like my second church because they didn't have a jazz pianist like Jon. Jon's church clapped as they sang both songs at the top of their voices. I have never sensed the power and presence of the Holy Spirit more in a Sunday worship service!

In my view, the best of modern praise choruses have poetic lyrics that are more artistic than most traditional hymns. There are 2 exceptions: "In the Garden" and "Dwelling in Beulah Land." To my amazement, I recently discovered that Austin Miles composed them both! Miles composed "In the Garden" after a waking vision of Mary Magdalene leaning to look in Jesus' tomb. After the vision, he said the lyrics for "in the Garden" came to him almost like dictation. "Dwelling in Beulah Land" takes as its inspiration the OT Hebrew word "Beulah" which means "marriage." So "Beulah Land" refers to a second honeymoon with God, after a period of wandering away. The song is based on the image of rising up above our problems to the mountain top of delight in the Spirit's presence (represented by the fountain and manna as spiritual food and drink). The YouTube video below gives you some idea of the difference a jazzed performance of the song makes for a worship service's energy and the difference Jon's performance made to the song. Unfortunately, only a couple of the 5 verses are sung. Notice the enthusiasm of the little girls.

"in the Garden" is one of the most beloved traditional hymns and is widely recognized to contain some of the most poetically beautiful simple lyrics of any hymn.

But few Christians know that it was basically divinely dictated to Austin Miles immediately after his waking vision of Mary Magdalene's emotional encounter with the risen Jesus at the tomb in what has been described as the most powerful recognition scene of all time.  Hear now the words of Austin Miles as he describes this magical revelation (and disregard the mediocre rendition of the hymn in this video]:

Title: Re: Modern Praise Choruses Vs. Old Hymns
Post by TheDonald on May 21st, 2017 at 1:41am
Worship leaders seem to feel the need to choose contemporary praise choruses, or traditional hymns, or a blend of both. Both genres have an identifying style that tends to wear thin after awhile, especially when inferior songs from each genre are selected. One solution to this routine is to blend in some of the best southern Gospel or Christian country western songs. My congregation seemed to really enjoy these for a change of pace:

1. "For Those Tears I Died"

2. "Railway to Heaven" (Statler Brothers):

3. "On the Wings of a Dove"

4, "I'll Fly Away" (Gaither Singers): In my experience, despite the rather hokie lyrics, this southern song is by far the favorite Chr\istian song about heaven:

Title: Re: Modern Praise Choruses Vs. Old Hymns
Post by Lights of Love on May 21st, 2017 at 11:32am
I remember my brother who was a big Roy Rogers fan use to sing "Dwelling in Beulah Land" all the time.  I still have the original record album that was among my mom's things.  Found it on youtube:

You've got me listening to gospel music this morning, which I love. 

Lots of well loved Hymns here:

Title: Re: Modern Praise Choruses Vs. Old Hymns
Post by TheDonald on May 23rd, 2017 at 8:48pm
My favorite simple prayer chorus to put us in the mood for silent prayer is the brief but lovely "You are My Hiding Place."

My favorite traditional Communion hym is:
"Here I Am, Lord"

Title: Re: Modern Praise Choruses Vs. Old Hymns
Post by Lights of Love on May 23rd, 2017 at 11:30pm
Don, both of those are very moving and very beautiful.

Here's another:

Title: Re: Modern Praise Choruses Vs. Old Hymns
Post by TheDonald on May 24th, 2017 at 12:48am

Lights of Love wrote on May 23rd, 2017 at 11:30pm:
Don, both of those are very moving and very beautiful.

Here's another:

Kathy, that's an old praise chorus that is one of my favorites for a very personal reason.  I first heard it at a prayer group I attended only twice.  On my 2nd visit, we prayed for my friend Russ whose mother was a vegetable in the final stages of Alzheimers.  Russ and his Mom had become alienated in his youth and now he had grown spiritually and was desperate for a reconciliation, but his Mom couldn't even recognize him!   Through our prayer, she became lucid and rational for 45 minutes before she died.  Mother and son wept in each other's arms as they poured out their hearts to each other.  That praise chorus is a symbol for me of that magical prayer session.

I associate "The Power of His Love" with another "old modern" praise chorus that first broke down my prejudice against this new worship genre, "Shout to the Lord:"

The most sacred life=changing experience of my life is described in the OP of my "Spirit Baptism and Speaking in Tongues" thread below.  In the weeks leading up to this experience I was battling a total loss of faith.  I was a typical teenager (16) who was bored with standard church music, but loved the Beatles and the Rolling Stones.  By divine providence, I stumbled onto to a recording of the song I post below performed by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.  I played it over and over again because it awakened an intense longing for an experience of God's holiness that, I believe, helped lead to the electrifying encounter with God that lay ahead.  It was so atypical of a 16-year-old's taste in music.  Hear a slightly inferior rendition of Gounod's "Holy, Holy, Holy" than the recording I heard:

Title: Re: Modern Praise Choruses Vs. Old Hymns
Post by Lights of Love on May 24th, 2017 at 11:04am
Don, "Holy, Holy, Holy" is my all time favorite hymn.  It goes back to when I was a child.  As you know my grandfather was a Methodist minister to three small country churches.  I loved to go spend weekends with him and my grandmother.  I would always ask him if we could sing it and he and the congregation, which was small always granted my wish, so we sang this almost every Sunday.

I love harp music and thought you might enjoy this. 

Title: Re: Modern Praise Choruses Vs. Old Hymns
Post by TheDonald on May 25th, 2017 at 6:29pm

You posted one of Elvis's lovely Gospel performances.  As a boy, Elvis idolized the Statesmen Quartet and later, as a boy  I did too.  Before there were praise choruses, there was southern Gospel. As a boy, I was warned, "Now Donnie, we mustn't entertain with the Gospel." I muttered to myself, "Why not? Hymns can be so stodgy and boring." We kids were warned not to attend other churches that featured Southern Gospel. These warnings couldn't serve as more effective advertising to go!

Before my time, the Statesmen were at their best.  I thought I'd post 4 numbers, each featuring a different quartet member that Elvis adored.

(1) Their star tenor, Denver Crumpler, prematurely died at age 44 because his diabetic coma was misdiagnosed as a heart attack.  To see just how good he was, listen to his solo with Statesmen backup as he sings the southern Gospel song, "I'll Tell It" from their national TV show in the 1950s:

(2) In my view, Jim "Big Chief" Wetherington of the Statesmen is the greatest ever southern Gospel base singer. This cute quartet rendition of "Up Above My Head:" features his deep, rich bass voice.  Big Chief (a Cherokee) died of a heart attack at a quartet convention in the early 1970s,Notice a young Elvis in the corner of one of the shots:

(3) Elvis later said that he tried to pattern his ballad vocalizations after the style of tenor Jake Hess.  Jake (2nd from the left) takes the lead in "Get Away Jordan:"

(4) The quartet's baratone, Doy Ott (another Cherokee), composed and sang "Wait for Me" as part of his grieving process over his wife's  unexpected death:

After Denver Crumpler and Jake Hess were gone, the Statemen were reconstituted into the quartet I heard as a kid.  To hear their new harmony on a pretty southern Gospel ballad, listen to "Till the Last Leaf Shall Fall:"

Title: Re: Modern Praise Choruses Vs. Old Hymns
Post by TheDonald on May 30th, 2017 at 3:59pm
Here are 2 more  seldom sung praise chorus that I adore and often had our people sing.  The first is "Jesus, Lover of My Soul:"

The second is "In the Secret:"

Title: Re: Modern Praise Choruses Vs. Old Hymns
Post by Lights of Love on May 30th, 2017 at 4:57pm
Don, I just finished listening to the Statesmen Quartet and they are delightful! 

I like both of the one's you just posted, too.

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