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Why Do I Write About Christian Rock?

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One question you may ask of me is “why do you write about Christian rock”? Because of the depth and breadth of Christianity and Christian teachings, the question of why I write about Christian rock is certainly valid. There is actually not one answer to this question, but several. One obvious answer is that I like this style of music. As a musician who was raised primarily listening to and playing rock music, this genre has a special appeal to me, as opposed to chant or choral music. However, there is a much deeper reason that I think it is important to discuss this music. Music has been a part of human history since time immemorial. Most, if not all, societies today incorporate music into their lives and traditions. If you search the internet for world music, you will find multiple sites which highlight, describe, and play the musical styles found across the world. Even the island of Malta has its own endemic music. These findings suggest that music was and is a key part of all societies. Biblically, music is mentioned as part of biblical celebrations even in early books of the Bible. Thus, in Genesis 4:21, the Bible states that Jubal was the father of musical instruments. In Exodus 15, Moses and the Israelites sang a song of victory after the the subversion of the Egyptian army in the Red Sea. Music seemed to grow in importance with David. David was the official musician in Saul’s court, and frequently played the harp to soothe Saul. David is credited as the author of about half of the Psalms in the Bible. Of course, the Psalms, which comprise the longest book, in the Bible are songs. As king, David also organized the Levitical musicians, which accounted for more than one in ten of the Levites, again emphasizing the value King David placed on music. Musical styles have changed over the centuries. The Gregorian chant was the primary form of singing in the early Catholic Church, reaching its apex in the medieval period. During the baroque and renaissance periods, more harmonic music was incorporated into the celebration of Mass, including works by Bach, Handel, Mozart and others. In more recent times, pious hymns have been sung. Finally, in the late 1960s, Christian rock came into being. The beauty of the availability of these various forms of music in the Christian church is that most people in the congregations are able to find some style that they will enjoy. There is one thing, however, that I think many people have difficulty grasping regardless of the style: the message in the music. All accomplished composers use the tools at their disposal to elicit emotions and impart meaning to their compositions. I understand that many do not appreciate Christian rock because they do not like the style of music or because they see it as somewhat of an abomination within the church. I’m not trying to convince them. I am striving, however, to reach those that enjoy the music, but do not understand it or do not feel the emotion packed into the songs. Because Christian rock is relatively new both lyrically and musically, understanding of the intent of the composer is frequently lacking. The modern artists are using their tools to spread their message of God’s love and forgiveness. They are combining poetic lyrics (as opposed to straightforward lyrics) frequently based on biblical texts and concepts with modern instrumentation and recording techniques in an effort to reach people. Thus, I am striving to reach people that enjoy this style of music, and to encourage them to listen carefully and thoughtfully, which is really the key. Many people just play the music in the background and, though they can sing all of the lyrics, they don’t think about the message. Though they hear the music, they don’t allow themselves to feel it. The main reason that I write is to open people’s minds to ideas, concepts and approaches used by these musicians to spread their message, in an effort to provide another way of allowing God to reach us.