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CBN.com The rim shot of a drummer pricked my ears. I practically fell out of the balcony of a movie theater in Maryland as Bill Haley and the Comets prophesied the words that were to reverberate off the walls of musical history" 1 o'clock, 2 o'clock, 3 o'clock Rock!...We're gonna' rock around the clock tonight!"
Did we ever! What had started out to be a few notes on a scale became the voice of an age.
Pop music has permeated practically every facet of our society and catapulted itself into a multi-million dollar industry and the primary entertainment entity in America.
Even the church hasn't escaped its influence. But the approach was usually "Popular music is sinful." When the rest of the world dropped the current musical fad to move on to something else, the church would pick it up, saying, "Now we can use it." What had been sinful was then "sanctified."
Recently I was reflecting on pop music. For me it could be almost described as the soundtrack of my life. My first memory of a religious song making it onto the national music charts was back in the 1950's, when Elvis Presley came out with an album of hymns, including the now standard "Peace in the Valley."
In the summer of 69, a real sleeper of a record caught everyone by surprise. Zooming to the top of the national record charts and firmly entrenching themselves in the number one position, The Edwin Hawkins Singers sang out "Oh Happy Day," and added that it would even get better if you "let Jesus wash your sins away." Lawrence Reynolds responded with "Jesus is a Soul Man."
This occurred primarily in the so called "secular" field. The Christian music-makers were silent for the most part, although a few people were attempting to bring some change to "Christian" music, and meeting with no little resistance.
Ralph Carmichael dropped a back beat into the score of a Billy Graham film, The Restless Ones, and emerged with "He's Everything To Me." This brought a new sound to the church choirs that were willing to brave the storm of controversy and opened the door for other musicians to stretch out into new realms.
It seemed that other musicians were not happy doin' what they were doin' and just needed the slightest bit of encouragement to take the leap into new musical territory. Reba Rambo, who with parents Dottie and Buck constituted the gospel team, The Rambos. Reba attempting to connect with her generation, went solo with a pop-sounding album called "Reality." Out of the same stable of musical artistsHeartwarming/Impact of Nashvillecame Gene Cotton with a folk-rock mix.
In 1970, Larry Norman arrived on the scene concurrently with the "Jesus Movement," which earned him the title of the Jesus music forerunner. As we can see from this brief history, though, he was but one part of a larger picture.
The dam had broken. Soon to follow were Danny Lee and the Children of Truth with "One Way," which became the hallmark of the Jesus movement. Mylon LeFevre broke away from the LeFevre's, one of the biggies of the gospel groups, and produced an album called simply "Mylon." To this day it historically stands as one of the best of the Jesus music albums.
The rest of the musical world, not wanting to miss out on a good thing, especially when it comes to a buck, responded with Jesus Christ Superstar, first as an album, then as a Broadway show and movie. Off-Broadway theatre gave us a new rendering of the book of Matthew in "Godspell;" The Byrds sang "Jesus is Just Alright;" Judy Collins did a very basic rendering of "Amazing Grace;" Ray Stevens announced that "Everything is Beautiful;" and Pacific Gas and Electric asked, "Are You Ready?" and the lead guitarist of the group, Glenn Schwartz, committed his life to Christ.
Turley Richards sang "I Heard the Voice of Jesus." Simon and Garfunkel, although not overtly singing about Jesus, came up with the extremely moving "Bridge Over Troubled Water."
Johnny Cash, a giant in the music industry, went public for the Lord, as did his friend singer songwriter Kris Kristofferson . He articulated the question that reflected the minds and hearts of many at this juncture, "Why Me,Lord?" James Taylor intoned "look down upon me Jesus" in "Fire and Rain," while B. J. Thomas stated that the whole thing was a "Mighty Cloud of Joy."
Music groups proliferated, including Love Song and other musicians of the Maranatha Music fold in Southern California.
The stream had now broadened into a river, and the musical question could be asked through the lyrics of yet another song of the period, "what's it all about, Alfie?"
The Day the Music Died
A revolution has been taking place in our world for nigh on to 2,000 years. To some it is visible; to others it is hidden and life goes on as it always has But the change occurring in our midst will ultimately result in the kingdoms of this world becoming the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ."
This will not always be a quiet revolution as it appears to be now. It will erupt into open warfare that will shake the heavens and earth.
Music is an integral part of this change, and is often mentioned in Scripture: in praise and worship; as a weapon of warfare; God's appointment of musicians; types of instruments; and the satanic use of music and its coming demise are all described in detail. I would like to talk about the final point for a moment.
Music was initially created to praise, worship, glorify, and please the Lord, not the fans who worship at the shrine of the latest rock idol. As one listens to the music and lyrics of the songs of the world, it becomes quite apparent that this music describes the lives of the people who sing it. It is music of death. At the risk of sounding a bit "super-spiritual," it can draw us to the wrong god as it did in the days of Nebuchadnezzar. Then the decree went out, When you hear the sound of the horn, pipe, lyre, trigon, harp, dulcimer, and every kind of music, you are to fall down and worship the golden image that the king has set up. (Daniel 3:5
One day that small, but very real Voice said to me, "Search My Word about music. I want to show you something." I did and had my eyes opened...
I read, I despise those who recline on beds of ivory (or water beds or couches --( Scott's amplified version)...who improvise (sing idle songs) to the sound of the harp like David's. BUT THEY HAVE COMPOSED SONGS FOR THEMSELVES. (Amos 6.5)
In Lamentations 5, Jeremiah stated that God was judging this whole idolatrous system and with it its music. Elders are gone from the gate, young men from their music. The joy of their hearts has ceased; our dancing has been turned into mourning.
Isaiah picks up the theme, The gaiety of tambourines ceases, the noise of revelers stops, the gaiety of the harp ceases. (Isaiah 24:8)
I prayerfully said to the Lord, "But Lord, that was in the day of the old prophets. What about today?" I received my answer from Ezekiel 26: So I will silence the sound of your songs, and the sound of your harps will be heard no more. And I will make you a bare rock.
Rock music is going to become "bare rock" music. It emanates from the lives of people who have no life, for they are separated from the Creator of life. As singer/composer Don MacLean sang years ago, it is "The Day the Music Died."
A New Song!
Conversely, in the Kingdom of God, the Lord is raising up and appointing musicians by name as He did in the past. He is setting them in the Church to turn the worship, praise, and creativity of music away from idolatry and back once again to the Lord Himself. And with them (the priests) were Heman and Jeduthun, and the rest who were chosen who were designated by name, to give thanks to the Lord...with trumpets and cymbals for those who would prophesy with instruments FOR THE SONGS OF GOD.
(1 Chronicles 25.2)
I don't want to leave you with the impression that this is only for musicians. We are all a priesthood in Christ Jesus, and we are to speak to one another, not just the Lord; in PSALMS, HYMNS and SPIRITUAL SONGS, three kinds of music; singing and making melody with your heart TO THE LORD. (Ephesians 5:19) Paul the apostle adds the ministry of ADMONISHING and TEACHING one another through music in Colossians 3:16.
It's very simple. Just start where you are (I call it closet time from Matthew 6:6 and sing to the Lord. As James says, Is any merry? Let him sing. That's not very difficult theologically. If you are happy, sing. Jesus will give you a new song so unique that it has never been heard before: A new song that has never been heard in the heathen world! (Isaiah 42:10)
Read part two.
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