Music of the Spheres--
And of Here

 - Christians love music, or so we say. Great hymns of the faith fill numerous hymnals, massive organs and choirs grace traditional churches, resident orchestras and semi-professional worship teams form a mainstay in mega-churches. Meanwhile, the popular Christian music genre has become one of the most lucrative markets today. But is the Church deaf to all but a narrow sampling of the many musical types and expressions that exist? Have we uncritically hunkered in holy bunkers regarding another "issue" called popular music? Does the charge that evangelicals have "dumbed down" the faith apply to music, too? Are contemporary Christians unable to appreciate art, reflecting a societal trend?

Don Hudson, writing in Mars Hill Review (, says, "George Steiner, in his masterful book, Real Presences, warns against modern humanity's retreat from art and the divine presence it reveals. His point is quite clear: if we lose the transcendent power of art, we become narcissistic. 'It is, I believe, poetry, art and music which relate us most directly to that in being which is not ours.' Art must by nature extend beyond its creator or its spectator, or it merely recreates them as Narcissus' mirror did for Narcissus...." Hudson continues, "The Christian who ignores art agrees with a secular view of art--that art has no ultimate meaning for life nor does it reveal the God who is there.... In plain terms, the Christian church, historically the creator and guardian of great art, has abdicated its role of nurturing and appreciating great art.... We can worship art, or art can aid our worship."

How can Christians think more broadly, more godly about the gift of music? What does music offer for our lives, our worship? What makes Christian music "Christian"? And what are music's limits in providing happiness, especially to musicians? We consider these and other questions in our special focus.

—Byron Barlowe, Editor/Webmaster, Leadership University

Featured Articles:

Apostles of Rock: The Splintered World of Contemporary Christian Music
Review by Michael Linton
Linton reviews two recent books, Apostles of Rock: The Splintered World of Contemporary Christian Music and At the Crossroads: An Insider's Look at the Past, Present, and Future of Contemporary Christian Music. Both focus on the history and future of the Contemporary Christian Music (CCM) genre.

The Puzzle of Our Lives
Douglas Yeo
Doug Yeo, Bass Trombonist of the Boston Symphony Orchestra and faculty member at Boston University School for the Arts relates his answer to the frequently asked question, "How did you get where you are today?" His message of challenge, hope and comfort is an encouragement to all who seek fulfillment and balance in life whether in music or other disciplines.

Music and the Christian
Jerry Solomon
Christians are encouraged to begin to think about the place and influence of music in their lives.

"On Earth As It Is In Heaven": Is Art Necessary for the Christian?
Don Hudson
What role should art play in the life of Christians? Where do we draw boundaries? How do we even define true art, and its purpose, in the first place? Don Hudson asserts that contemporary Christians often shun art out of misplaced fear rather than embrace it as a vehicle to God's transcendence.

On The Tip Of His Tongue: A Tribute to Mark Heard, 1951-1992
Doug Wheeler
The gifted and prolific songwriter-musician Mark Heard died in July of 1992 at the age of forty, following two heart attacks. Hailing originally from Macon, Georgia, but spending the majority of his writing career in the Los Angeles area, he left behind a musical legacy that is staggering in both length and substance.

What is Christian in Music?
Terry B. Ewell, Ph.D.
Recent attempts by evangelicals to define Christian music as opposed to secular or "worldly" music have highlighted the complex relationship between the Christian faith and music. Most if not all Christian denominations share the view that music should be selectively chosen for worship services, mass, communion, personal listening, etc. The difficulty, however, lies in the criteria by which the choices are made: precisely what is it that makes Christian music "Christian?" This paper presents a brief overview of some historic and contemporary criteria for Christian music. It then proposes ethical principles for musical activities based upon an analogy to food or drink. My assumptions for the paper are not just theistic (as in Muslim, Jewish, etc.) but more precisely Christian. Thus, I make use of doctrines and select passages drawn from the Old and New Testaments of the Bible as a foundation from which to draw conclusions in this paper.

Rock Music
Jerry Solomon
Rock music continues to occupy an important place in the lives of millions of youth, including Christians. This essay encourages us to Stop, Listen, and Look as we listen to rock. Since the music is not inherently evil, discernment is the key.

The Hidden Hope in Lament
Dan Allender
Silent despair is a treasonous refusal to cry out to leads to death. Laments vocalize our doubts and our anger at God...and in our cry, hope oddly dawns. Dan Allender listens to the sounds of sorrow in African American spirituals and is reminded of the Psalms.

The View from the Back Row
Douglas Yeo
Doug Yeo, Bass Trombonist of the boston Symphony Orchestra, discusses his philosophy of music and music performance from his vantage point in the back row of a professional symphony orchestra. "When people ask me why I make music, I reply that I make it as an offering to God.... It is a continual cycle of giving, sharing, offering, worship and sacrifice that is one of the joys of my life. I praise Him for the talent He has given me, and for the privilege of witnessing to the majesty of His name in a way that touches so many." Yeo touches thousands more through his Web site:

America's Messiah
Michael Linton
Handel's "Messiah" remains a favorite Christmas musical pieces, even among those who rarely listen to other works. The author suggests that this reveals more about the American public's peculiarities than it does about Handel's musical genius.

Interview: David Wilcox
Kirk Webb
In the past few years singer-songwriter David Wilcox has emerged from being a street busker and bar entertainer to become an accomplished concert hall performer. His folk style resembles that of James Taylor, but his lyrics transcend the earthy images for which Taylor is known. Many who know Wilcox's music may disagree that his songs speak of matters of faith. Indeed, the message is rarely clear. Bar crowds sing along with him, caught up in his stories without realizing they are singing of something or Someone beyond the moment. Perhaps that is Wilcox's greatest talent. He tells parables and stories that speak of God and love in a way that invites the audience to consider the point of his words without demanding any more of them than simply to enjoy an evening of music.

Related Article:

Opinion: The Mozart Effect
Michael Linton
Music prof Michael Linton demystifies the supposed effects of music on intelligence and debunks the claims of those who try to profit from the so-called "Mozart effect."

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