Musical Variety & Breadth

This is the seventh column in a series I’m writing to describe our goals and values for corporate worship. If you’ve not noticed by now, let me point out how these explanations are structured. Each value discussion begins with a series of “we believe” statements, followed by several practical implications. Beliefs first, behaviors second. Makes sense, right? What we believe always gives rise to what we do.

Today’s value discussion centers on musical variety and breadth.

We believe the diversity and variety in God and His world should be reflected in our worship music, a belief the Scriptures clearly support. Compare, for example, the simplicity of Psalm 100 with the complexity of Psalm 119. Likewise the “psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs” of Colossians 3:16 convey nothing if not a varied selection of music for use in the church.

Furthermore, the doctrinal content of the Bible covers a broad range of themes, calling for a similarly broad range of musical styles appropriate to those subjects. Exhilarating truth in the lyrics fits best with an exhilarating style of music. Likewise, sober truth is most effective when set to sobering music.

In addition, we believe an encounter with God may provoke a wide range of emotions: joy, sorrow, hope, regret, expectancy, fear, wonder, etc. Additionally, the Christian life involves vastly different emotions from time to time. Thus, we must use a wide diversity of musical styles to stimulate the many appropriate emotions called out by God’s worth and to reflect the variety of experiences encountered in the Christian life.

Finally, we believe God’s passion for the fame of His Son guarantees that every culture will someday possess a witness to the glory of Jesus Christ, including the vast array of contemporary musical cultures. Contrary to what many believe (or would prefer!), God simply has not designated one particular style of music that we must use or must avoid in corporate worship.

Practically, our value of musical variety and breadth means:

  • We use a variety of musical styles, reflecting the diversity we see in God Himself.
  • We strive to select songs with lyrics which cover the broad range of singable doctrine.
  • We portray a realistic view of the Christian life in our music, reflecting the emotions that accompany hardship, blessing, and every experience in between.
  • We utilize the best songs from the past and the present, endeavoring to be as chronologically diverse as possible.