Progressive Churches of Christ: Taking a Sabbath

I posted two posts the same day yesterday by accident. That gives me the day off.

And that leaves time for some of the greatest music of all time —

Bach composed for a limited ensemble of instruments. The piano had not yet been invented. Many orchestral instruments were in a relatively primitive, limited form. And Stokowski brought his orchestrational genius to Bach. So much better than a harpsichord or organ.

For those who wonder why there is pressure now for instrumental music in the Churches of Christ, it’s not the Emerging Church, moral relativism, or a desire to be like “the denominations.” It’s the fact that organs have been replaced with better instruments.

(And, yes, my musical taste was heavily influenced by Disney’s Fantasia as a child.)

About Jay F Guin

My name is Jay Guin, and I’m a retired elder. I wrote The Holy Spirit and Revolutionary Grace about 18 years ago. I’ve spoken at the Pepperdine, Lipscomb, ACU, Harding, and Tulsa lectureships and at ElderLink. My wife’s name is Denise, and I have four sons, Chris, Jonathan, Tyler, and Philip. I have two grandchildren. And I practice law.
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7 Responses to Progressive Churches of Christ: Taking a Sabbath

  1. Bob says:

    Electronically-based musical instruments are not “better” and using them is still first-world outreach. There remains a place for peculiarity if only to distinguish from the world’s sense of style…

  2. Jay Guin says:


    Stokowski’s Bach transcriptions do not involve electronic instruments. But I get your point. I don’t agree though. Nowhere are we taught to be different for the sake of being different. Moreover, there are ways to be stylistically different while using drumkits and electric guitars.

    Most of our old hymns were written in the secular styles of the day. They only sound churchy to us today because secular styles have changed while church styles often harken back to 19th Century musical styles.

    Now, there was a time when the Catholic Church refused to allow harmonic thirds because they made church music sound too secular. Many Medieval musical forms were designed to not sound like secular music — and required highly trained choruses to sing.

    Luther brought in secular song forms, and Lutheranism spread across Europe in large part because of the beauty and accessibility of his hymns. The churches could sing them! Luther introduced four-part harmony to make congregational singing both beautiful and suitable for all sorts of voices.

    Isaac Watts, Charles Wesley, and the other great hymn composers weren’t trying to be peculiar but to find a style and sound that touched the hearts of the congregants — and they helped bring about vast million-person revivals because they wrote music that melted hearts.

    So the goal is not to be different but to speak in a musical vocabulary that conveys God’s message.

  3. Jay Guin says:


    I do agree that I prefer vocal music in church. I don’t mind the instruments if they support the singing rather than overwhelming it.

    And repetitious songs do drive me nuts. Especially Bringing in the Sheaves. Some contemporary songs are guilty of the same thing, but not all. As I type, I’m listening to Josh Garrels’ CCM album Over Oceans. Beautiful and not filled with repetition. You just have to explore the vast quantity of music that’s available now. Some is dreadful, but some will lift you above the heavens.

    Here’s a free album from Garrels you should check out:

  4. Dwight says:

    Our style is our style and we like our style because we are used to our style. I am sure that our style would be just as disturbing/foreign to the OT Hebrews as the Hebrews style would be to us. I do like our style however, but then again I really have nothing to compare it to. And the Psalms are often times repetitious in nature in words, but I doubt the tune would be. And even though I like 4 part harmony, sometimes it detracts from the song as you are having to keep up your part among other parts for musical impact and we complain that IM is distracting. The New Song is pretty, but I almost get lost in the chorus and I know how to read most music. Singing in unison is often better and less work very unifying, even if not as beautiful. That is just my opinion though.

  5. Ray Downen says:

    I’m greatly enjoying listening to the Bach musical number. And some people think God hates musicians while only liking vocal music!

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