From the Editors: Music in Worship
A vigorous discussion is almost predictable when the following question is posed: “What did you think of the music in today’s worship?” Feelings sometimes run high as opposing viewpoints clash.
So what are the reasons for the controversy about “music in worship”? Authors, such as Larry Warkentin and Linda Schwartz, don their historic lenses and help readers see that differences of opinion have not only existed in certain denominations in past centuries, but already occupied leaders in the early church. Christine Longhurst proposes that two distinct traditions of music-making can be traced already in the Old Testament.
These authors, along with Tony Funk, plead for tolerance and the embrace of diversity. They do more. They argue for a shift from a more narrowly encoded set of ideas about music to an embrace of broadly-ranging forms.
Two articles offer statistical data: Roy Klassen reports his research on the perceived effectiveness of Mennonite College Music programs. Clarence Hiebert, chair of the committee charged with the production of a new hymnal for the Mennonite Brethren denomination, marshals extensive data about song preferences in congregations and details what is involved in the compilation of a hymnbook.
Mary Anne Isaak injects a quite different dimension with her focus on self-theologizing by the Zairian church as expressed in songs. If music assists in Christian nurture, as Tony Funk claims, perhaps more attention should be given to the lyrics of the songs that congregations sing.
Larry Warkentin, head of the Music Department at Fresno Pacific College, was guest editor for the theme articles. His careful planning, energy and extensive editorial work are gratefully acknowledged.
Gerald Pauls and Joel Wohlgemut do exegetical work on Psalms (imprecations) and John’s gospel (the story of cleansing the temple).
It is to Gerald Pauls also that our gratitude flows for his painstaking work, performed gratis, in compiling a five year index.
With this edition Direction welcomes a new participant and sponsor—Bethany Bible Institute of Hepburn, Saskatchewan.
The Spring 1994 issue of Direction will highlight another much-discussed topic, “The Christian Faith and the Plurality of Religions.”