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Tuning in to worship music

Pastor Mark

The problem with worship music today is people are using secular songs with complicated melodies that cover the words. The instruments are noisy, the words are mispronounced, and the singers express an irreverent attitude.

Sound familiar?

Worship music is perhaps the greatest controversy in today’s church. However, the opinion expressed above is not modern. It was the judgment of the Council of Trent, held in the mid-1500s. Established as a response to the Protestant Reformation, the Council was convened to assess problems within the Catholic Church.

Prior to the Council, the church had allowed certain freedoms in the high Mass. In some cases the music was traditional; in others, the traditional melodies were given a greater flourish or replaced by popular, secular, tunes with Christian words.

Heeding the Council, the Catholic Church placed a number of restrictions on its music, returning it to a traditional, solemn expression. That is until Giovanni da Palestrina created the Pope Marcellus Mass, by carefully combining the traditional with a number of the prohibited expressions. The resulting worship readily received the approval of the ecclesiastical authorities, opening the door for future worship innovations.

Worship is a personal experience that must provide avenues through which people can connect with God. Understandably, we each have our preference of what expression works best. But the polarization of inclinations does little to resolve tensions. Our solution is best found in the mindset of Palestrina, who chose to take the best of each view and unite them to God’s glory.

Pastor Mark Holmes is an ordained minister in the Wesleyan Church and has served the Darrow Road Wesleyan Church since 1997.