My entry about Bach last week drew a few comments that might be called evidence of a cultural divide. To be very broad, I'd suggest that most people fall into one of three classifications: There are people who love classical music and look down on country music. There are people who love country music and dismiss classical music as elitist. And there are people who are eclectic and love a variety of music, including some classical and some country. Of course, country and classical are chosen here simply as examplars from two broader categories (plus they have a nice alliterative quality, don't you think?).
Reality or talent shows sometimes play on this division. The finale of the most recent season of "America's Got Talent" featured an opera singer and a country singer. I didn't hear either of them sing, but I predicted the winner. Always bet on country music in a popularity contest!
Of course, there is beauty in simple melodies, folk music, gospel, jazz, country, bluegrass. Most of the American innovations in music have bubbled up from the people as popular expressions of music, rather than the European tradition of court music. We do want to include that sound in church. One difficulty from my point of view is that it often isn't appropriate for congregational singing or isn't written with a text that lines up with Lutheran theology. And so, as members of my congregation know, I play a variety of music but the majority stems from classical sources, and much of our hymnal reflects centuries of European musicians. I don't think I've played any Amy Grant. Since her music came up in the comments last week, I'll have to search out something as an offertory or communion piece, perhaps. Any other suggestions? Music you miss or music you'd love to hear? You can always share online or in person!
But keep in mind that maybe it's not a bad thing that church music is often different from what we hear in our daily lives. It helps create a sense of the sacred. We'll keep inviting in new sounds and aim for variety, and I'll have more to say on the debate tomorrow. But to close today, a simple country tune that I sang along with to a commercial the other day (much to the amazement of my significant other). Sing along!
Stick shifts and safety belts,
Bucket seats have all got to go.
When I'm riding in my car,
It makes my baby feel so far...
And God bless Lynne Rossetto Kasper at MN Public Radio for putting that hummable, memorable tune in my mind most weeks!