… and for me that means church in the morning, unless I’m entirely fried. So I’ll be off in a short time. But while I was checking out music news I ran across an article in the UKs Guardian about karaoke style music for churches.

I promise you that if that happens at the church I attend I’ll go elsewhere. Period.

Our church still uses a hymnbook, believe it or not. We also have another book with the more contemporary songs, and this book, unlike so many I’ve seen, also has notes in it, which I appreciate. Some of the contemporary songs aren’t bad. In fact—dare I say this?—some are good and even better that some of the junk in the old hymnbook! Of course some are horrible, but I can tell you that there are some terrible old hymns too. I often can look at the date of a hymn and know if I’ll like the music or not. That schlocky, emotional, romantICKY era of hymns I can do without.

But karaoke? Pleaasseee say it ain’t so!

I’m back home from church. We sang from the contemporary song book. While there are notes printed in the book, I was reminded that they don’t really suggest singing harmony. I make my own part up, though; the songs are so simple you can harmonize the first time through even if you’ve never heard the tune before. I don’t care for completely predictable music, but I suppose for hymns it’s a good idea. These songs, after all, are for everyone to sing. Complex harmonies and difficult lines probably aren’t the best thing. (I remember, at another church, when we did have a few of difficult things to sing, in fact, and it was only embarrassing to hear everyone muddle through.)

I do think that not providing notes in church music is a reflection of things going on with music. Fewer and fewer people can read music. Some churches (I’m talking Protestant here since that’s what I’m familiar with) are even moving back into the “harmony is bad” thing. A colleague of mine told me her husband, who is a pianist, was told that he needed to stop playing harmony because it distracted from worship and everything should be in unison. Sigh.


  1. I’ve been the organist at a very small Episcopal church since just before Christmas. Recently, the priest apprehended me after church and introduced me to the Digital Hymnal that I didn’t know we had. (Gasp.) He was wondering if they should sell it. Almost before he finished speaking, I was saying that I would never use it and if he wanted to sell it, to go right ahead. But then, it occured to me that there is no one in our community who can sub for me at the organ in a last minute emergency. Sigh. I have actually found one use for it. I have a couple of choir members who want to sing harmony on hymns but don’t read music well enough to play the parts for themselves. They asked me to record their alto and tenor parts on a cassette tape for them to practice with. Rather than spend my time on that, I suggested that they use the digital hymnal since it will play individual parts. So, we’re getting a little bit of use out of the thing, and we’re still singing harmony. I still think I might sneak in one night and smash the thing. BTW, my blog’s back. I can’t quit!

  2. Patricia Mitchell

    Okay … so I can understand using one in an emergency! That will work for me. 🙂

    And yes, good way to teach parts to folks who can’t read music. I do think we’ve lost the ability to read music partly because of how many churches now just flash the words up on an ugly screen. (Can you tell I really despise a lot of changes some churches have made? I often wonder why (especially Protestant) churches have dumped anything artistic. Sigh.)

    Glad your blogging again!