Tag Archives: Music

Commandments Concerning Congregational Singing

And upon the times that shalt gather thineself and thine children and thine manservant and thine maidservants and thine Pentecostal neighbors who don’t really know Jesus together into the church (never less than three times per week if thou wouldst thrive) then shalt thou sing the songs of Zion suchlike as Zion has never really actually sung. And thy song leader shall raise his hands aloft and shall beat the air with them in the manner of a man who is fighting bees and the piano and the organ and the trumpet shall give of their uncertain sounds and all the people shall lift their voices if not their hands. So shalt thou worship God as he has commanded all white, middle class Americans to worship him.

And if it shall come to pass that the spirit shall move upon the song leader then he (for it shall always be a he) shall observe to do some shenanigans such as shall make the hearts of all the people glad. And he with great joy inform them that upon the third verse the ladies alone shall sing and on the fourth verse the men alone shall sing. But upon the second verse shall nobody sing for it is an abomination in my sight and of great naughtiness.

He also shall insist that the people attempt to stuff as many “pow’rs” as possible within a line of that (not very) old hymn and the people shall rejoice for this is what passes for fun amongst us. He also shall instruct that everybody shall “watch me on the last” and that it will be worth it all when thou shalt draw out the line and hold it until thou shalt feel a bit lightheaded what is possibly the Spirit’s moving but more likely just a lack of oxygen. So shalt thou praise the Lord Most High for He doth greatly delight in the implied fermata and the hidden ritardando.

And everybody shall smile at the song leader and say what a great job he has done and feign surprise that he has never had any formal musical training at all even though it’s obvious that he has pretty much just copied what he’s seen other song leaders doing. For no matter how bad the song leading shall be at least it isn’t a liberal praise team or a band.

Independent Baptist Book of Everlasting Rules and Requirements p 663.

Celtic Music

Many fundamentalists (especially those of college age) have a love affair with all things Irish that borders on obsession. This yen of fundies for Ireland is a bit confusing on its face. After all, fundies don’t approve of liquor, Roman Catholics, dancing, luck, or kissing people merely based on their ethnic heritage. In fact, they think so little of Ireland that it’s a fairly popular missionary destination. But regardless of all these flaws, what many fundamentalists do approve of is traditional rhythmic folk music played by white guys. And the Irish have plenty o’ that. (So do mountain-dwelling banjo-pickers but that’s a post for another day.)

Now this is not to say that fundamentalists will listen to all Irish music or singers. U2, The Dropkick Murphys or Flogging Molly’s music would never pass music checks at any Fundy U worthy of the name. But when it comes to the instrumental folks songs or hymns played in “Celtic” style, many fundamentalists have love for it that borders on obsession. You’ll rarely find a church bookstore without at least a few CDs of “Celtic Hymns Played Slowly and Drearily Volume III.”

But what is Irish music really but songs of love and loss and oral histories that are sung to variations on tunes as old as time. Are they really that different from the folk music sung by people in Botswana, Kyrgyzstan, or Poughkeepsie? What sanctifies the Irish to sing and play what would cause others to fall from grace with God?

Perhaps it does all come down to color. And I’m not talking about green.