Thursday, June 23, 2005

VBS is Over

VBS is always fun, but it is always good when it is over. The thing I have realized about VBS here in Texas is that everyone has a different idea of how children's songs go. They generally are not on paper anywhere, so that means from one part of the country to another they are sung differently. That puts me as the singing guy at a huge disadvantage, cause I only know my version and it may not be the one they are used to. Examples include "I'm in the Lord's Army," "The Butterfly Song," "12 Men Went to Spy," and "Who's the King of the Jungle." Some have different words and some have different tunes. Why can't people just teach the correct version. (the one I know of course) :)

And of course when it comes to music, people are pretty stubborn about how it is sung. It is more than just children's songs. When I rehearse the worship team, if it isn't the arrangement they are used to or if they are used to doing something that is not in the music, then they let me know about it. Not in bad way, but it is obvious that when people sing something a certain way, they don't like to change it. It is kind of like big hits. I love the song "You Raise Me Up" by Josh Groban. That is the first person I heard do it and I love it. You can't top what he has already done. To have a girl sing the second verse just doesn't do the song justice to me. Now some of you first heard it when Selah did it and you can't imagine the song any different than the way they do it. It is funny how stubborn we get about music. It seems to be a universal thing with most people. That fact alone makes worship ministry a difficult job, because everyone has a view on how things need to be sung or what needs to be sung. I'm stubborn too. I like what I like, but as a worship minister, I don't have the luxury to just do it my way all the time.

What is about music that makes us so stubborn? I think I have an idea. Music touches a part of us that not many other things in life touch. When music touches us we associate the way it is done with the feelings we have. When we hear a song sung differntly it throws up immediate red flags. ("Wait, that is not the way that goes.") Is the new way bad, no, but it is different and in the case of music, different is in many cases bad.

There are times when it is easy to change a piece of music because the way it has been done in the past has not been effective. But if a group of people are touched by a song, it is not worth the fight to change it.

An example at PRCC is the song "There's a Stirring." PRCC sings it differently than I learned it at Lipscomb. When I first put it in the order, they didn't sing it to the music and added a different descant line than I was used to. When I changed it I got several phone calls and emails disapproving of my changes. I then sent out an infamous email to the praise team entitled "There's a Stirring in the worship team."

I guess you could say that music has the tendancy to bring out our selfishness, yet God says that our singing needs to be about others not about ourselves.

I do think there comes a time when a song has been done so many times the same way that most everyone welcomes a change in the song. I think that is why you are seeing the old hymns revitalized throuh different arrangements. "All Hail the Power of Jesus' Name" is a great hymn and means a lot the way it has always been done, but there is something fresh about some of the new praise bands putting a new twist to the music.

I don't claim to know how all this works, but so far these are some of my insights. What I do know for sure is that music is powerful and because of that people hold "their" music very near to their hearts and are more than willing to speak up if it is done too differently.

Sorry for the ramble.



Jenni said...

Bret - I hear you on all your comments here.....I, too, am a stubborn one who wants to sing songs the way I learned them (the right way :-) -- and the PRCC version of "There's a Stirring" isn't the same as the way I learned it in Abilene. BUT, I have learned how to add my own descant part that is similar to the way I learned it into the PRCC version. It's not my perfect solution, but it does work. I don't envy your position of having to be the leader!!

summer said...

bless your heart! you do such a good job! you were truly made to do what you do. most of us would just say, i'm sorry, i don't care what any of you like, i'm doing it my way because i'm in charge. i thank God everyday for your growing humility and sincere desire to bring others closer to HIm. i love you baby!

Luke-(270)361-9127, Kacey-579-7967 said...

Hey Bret,
I know exactly what you mean about this whole music thing! Singing with Hallel after I've learned all the Zoe versions of the songs is so crazy because they are all arranged differently! It drives me crazy...especially "There's a Stirring"...They sing it so fast and we learned it from Stephen and always sang it really's a lot more powerful that way. Anyway, I was gonna tell you to check out the Jars of Clay cd "Redemption Songs"...of course I'm in love with Jars of Clay, but I have a new found respect for them with this cd. They redid a ton of old hymns and jazzed them up in a sort of folk/modern's an amazing cd, and if you don't have it then drop whatever you're doing right now and go get it!!!! Peace with God, Kacey <><

Margie said...

You are so right...
In addition, I think it's sort of like Leslie was when she was a little girl (Summer I know you will remember this). It really didn't mattter what the song was...she's be singing her little heart how...but to a tune that was so different, sometimes you really had to be paying attention to the words to realize what she was singing. Summer and Sara (mostly Sara probably) use to tell her, "That's not how that song goes." Her reply, "uh's my song." She was in her own little world and that was all that mattered. : ) Love you...have a great week-end..(by the way. I too think you do a wonderful job, both professionally and as a father and husband!

Ofelia said...

Great insight, Bret, into those songs with heartstrings, and the impact on one's worship experience. Bless you as you plan worship for the young and the old, the Abilenians and the Nashtonians, those who sit at the front and those who hug the back pews - what a challenge to welcome all into His throneroom! When we get closer to that unity Jesus prayed for us, wonder if we'll chuckle when we look back at how we struggled with these different preferences?! Keep up the good work, Bret. - Ofelia

Phyllistene said...

Hey Bret!!! Hola from Mexico this time! anyways.. I feel ya on the VBS musical deviations.. even within the same organization, city and string of churches I have found so many different ways to sing songs... craziness! Anyways pics of your VBS are so amazing! What a blessing! anyways... talk to you later@

ckelaperez said...

Hey, there! Just for the record, I've noticed changes but I've really liked them. I do love music! I can't sing (really, I can't) or clap to the beat but I love to listen to others sing from the heart! Really, I've enjoyed how you've been mixing the worship team's voices. Keep up the good work!