Philosophy of Music…

“After they talk and stuff at church, why do they always play sad music while they pray?”

This question came to me after a time of response that followed a sermon at a youth event this last weekend. I didn’t have a very good answer. A lot of things flashed through my mind, but none of them would have satisfied the inquisitive young man who’d asked the question.

To manipulate a desired response…?
To keep a mellow vibe…?
To encourage thoughtful response of what you’ve just heard…?
The only thing I could honestly say on the spot was, “I’m not really sure.”

Something else struck me also: “sad music”. If a song doesn’t reach a certain tempo, that makes it sad? The reason this part of his question raised so many more questions for me is probably that I tend to gravitate toward songs that move along at a pace that allows me to think introspectively. (Maybe I’m a slow thinker, so that means slower songs.) But if what seems “thoughtful” to me seems “sad” to a good portion of my students, what am I communicating?

God is sad…?
God is slow…?
God is only found in the slow music…?

That’s not the message I want my students to take to heart. Music’s sometimes a tricky issue in the church. Everyone perceives it differently. It’ll take a lot of work to form a well-rounded, healthy ‘philosophy of music’ in ministry. I’ve just been reminded I need to reevaluate that once in a while. Thanks Andrew.

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