Excellence is the key.

Music was God’s idea—a luxurious gift to human beings, which has enriched our life since earliest times. In the Old Testament God melded music and worship, a glorious union still stable today. Of all the religions of the world, Christianity has contributed most to the great music of the world. God takes music in the church seriously. But does anyone else in the church today?

Even the casual observer would conclude that the state of music in American churches is mixed. On the one hand, music is enjoying an unparalleled acceptance. Increasing numbers of young people are entering vocational music ministries. Many prospective ministers of music are seeking a theological as well as a musical education.

Moreover, the sheer quantity of sacred music that is published and recorded each year is staggering. The graded choir program is on the upswing. Instrumental music is rising. New hymnals with greater depth, breadth, and balance are appearing from both the denominational and non-denominational publishing houses (see Minister’s Workshop, p. 40, for a how-to on hymnal selection). Training schools for the performing arts are being developed in many larger churches. The concert series as a means of community outreach is finding a place in the music ministries of many growing churches.

Although certain geographical or ecclesiological pockets in the country may be insulated or isolated from some or even most of these trends, the tremendous growth and vitality of church music today is positive and encouraging. On the other hand, there are many aspects of church music that aren’t quite so encouraging or positive. Much contemporary church music is shaped more by secular values than by theological principles. Commercial ...

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