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Wednesday, August 19, 2009 

It’s Bar Form Not Bar Tunes

Today’s Issues, Etc. soundbite of the day is from an interview on July 17 with Dr. Paul Grime. Dr. Grime is an Associate Professor of Pastoral Ministry and Missions and Dean of the Chapel at Concordia Theological Seminary up in Fort Wayne, Indiana. In today’s soundbite Dr. Grime debunks the myth that Luther brought in bar tunes into the church.

I’ve heard this urban legend being used on more than one occasion to justify the sneaking in of popular culture’s music through the portals of our sanctuaries. The thinking is this; that if we make church sound more like the culture we’ll attract more people and thereby grow Christ’s Church. I’ve even seen an evangelism “suggestion” saying if we just play a Randy Newman or John Fogerty song as “bumper music” the people will feel more comfortable and not scared away by too much of that scary church music.

The fact of the matter is; is that if we make our sacred places look and sound like the culture they cease to be sacred spaces. Christianity has always been countercultural and has never conformed to what was going on outside the walls of our sanctuaries.

Dr. Grime’s comments tearing down the falsehood that Luther would take songs sung in taverns and make hymns out of them by explaining what a bar form is just, well, it’s just music to my ears and is today’s Issues, Etc. soundbite of the day.

Just in case you missed it, here’s my inaugural pick for soundbite of the day.

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Yes, it is a myth. Luther understood full well that the beat could overwhelm the words.

The traditional form of worship has worked well for thousands of years.

Why mess with that because you want to get a few more in the door?

In the door for...what? To give themselves back to...themselves.


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  • I'm Frank Gillespie
  • From The Haut South
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