Thursday, July 16, 2009

God So Loved the World

This will be a new feature on my blog. I will highlight great English or American sacred choral music.


Bobby said...

Just wondering why you consider this "great"?

Kent Brandenburg said...

First, it is great because it is scripture. What a great passage of Scripture and singing that to God, something inspired by God, in agreement with God, loving the text, loving the God Who gave the text, and Who gave His Son. What love!

Second, it is large, expansive, great as in "big," worthy of a "great" God---"great" is the Lord---and He deserves "great" praise, something that is ornate, like the tabernacle, the temple, and the perfume broken over Jesus feet, a beautiful fragrance that would stay with Him through His death and burial.

Third, it is sober and serious of the sober and serious truth that it is.

Fourth, it has a distinct melody and harmony with rhythm in the background.

Fifth, it is written beautifully.

Sixth, it is sung with skill, full of technical complexities that show care. There is a mastery of the craft.

Seventh, it isn't cheap and trashy, banal. It is austere and stately in the majesty of a holy God. It is dignified. You don't get the sense that you are being entertained by someone attempting to be clever or flamboyant.

Eighth, it is moving, not emotional, touching the affections, not the passions.

Ninth, it isn't tedious, hollow, or superficial, but full.

I believe that it gives an example of what we should strive for. I don't know who the people are. I'm judging it completely on the music itself. It doesn't attempt to gratify or cause the feeling that some people then interpret as spirituality, but it is actually the flesh.

I'm not saying this is the best, but it is a good example. We should be striving for this, instead of the trite. We should work at greatness in our music for the Lord, for tremendous skill that is worthy of His name. It isn't skill for showing off or skill for skill's sake, but for the greatness of His majesty. It sets God in a high place, high above us.

I could say more, but this is a start.

Anonymous said...

But Bro. Brandenburger, music like this will never get the seeker-friendly young people into the church to hear relevant sermonettes peppered with witty and light-hearted stories from your personal experiences!

Kent Brandenburg said...

That is true, Bro. Daytonitus,

By the way, I don't think this is the ONLY music that God should hear, but I believe He deserves this kind of music.

Anonymous said...

Great song choice. Looking forward to your next one!

philipians2511 said...

I'll second that Anon.

Pastor Brandenburg would you be willing to let us in on where we can find music such as this?

Where do you go and why?

Respectfully Submitted

Bro Steve

Gal. 2.20

Bobby said...

The words are, obviously, tremendous. They are singing Scripture.

The style seems Romish as in RCC. It is honestly difficult for me to even make out the words what with all the drawn out ones that are pronounced in a way that only a RCC or Protestant clergyman would speak.

The style seems to be designed more for showing off the ability of the singers than proclaiming the profound yet simple truth of John 3:16.

The singers are not men and women who actually participate in a church that would be recognized Scripturally as "the pillar and ground of the truth." It is a UMC choir. The vessels declaring the message are involved in dead religion.

And now for a little down-home, non-logical rhetoric that can surely be "beaten, stripped, and left for dead" by those who desire to do so:

I find it hard to imagine camel-hide, locust-eating John the Baptist,or the Galilean fishermen led by the step-son of a carpenter "ooooooooooiiiiiiiinnnnnnggggggg" along in the upper room when they sang their hymns.

Paul pointed to his simple style of preaching and the fact that he was not in the "high and mighty" crowd when he ministered the Word. This seems the opposite.

I wonder if the folks that gathered on the banks of Sandy Creek worked at this sound or if they just sang in their humble way from happy hearts to the God they loved and adored?

Is God more pleased with professionalism or with simple saints who just simply sing to Him because they love Him?

I'd be hard pressed going to India, Yap in Micronesia, or the Appalachians of Pennsylvania and trying to justify attempting to get those folks to sing in this strained style when it would be like attempting to teach them another language before they could "really praise God appropriately."

We absolutely ought to offer God our best, but if this is what we ought to be striving for then multitudes of simple Baptists need to sit down and be quiet while the professionals from Rome show us how it is done.

These are just my thoughts on the performance, not necessarily a reaction to anything written here by anyone.

Kent Brandenburg said...

Bobby wrote: "The style seems Romish as in RCC. It is honestly difficult for me to even make out the words what with all the drawn out ones that are pronounced in a way that only a RCC or Protestant clergyman would speak."

Singing is elongated talking, where vowels are hled out. When they are held out longer, the song is being sung slower. We shouldn't rush through music that is being offered to God. I view them as pronouncing the words correctly and not holding on the consonants of the words, like modern music. Jehovah's Witnesses wear nice clothes and go door to door. Does that make those two activies wrong?

I don't personally know how Roman Catholic and Protestant. However, if they do happen to sing a song well, we don't have to sing it poorly in order to differentiate ourselves from them.

Bobby wrote: "The style seems to be designed more for showing off the ability of the singers than proclaiming the profound yet simple truth of John 3:16."

The point of praise to God through music is not for the proclamation of the truth. I would be happy to have you show me a verse that shows that. I can show you at least 90 that say it is directed to God. Playing and singing skillfully is something that God said He wanted. The truth of John 3:16 is simple in that it is easy to understand, but it isn't simple as in trite. It is majestic, grand truth that should be presented in a big, magnificent, skillful way. I can read into their motives---that they were "showing off." Do we have to sing poorly so that people will know that we're not showing off?

Bobby wrote: "The singers are not men and women who actually participate in a church that would be recognized Scripturally as "the pillar and ground of the truth." It is a UMC choir. The vessels declaring the message are involved in dead religion."

I already placed a disclaimer on this point, rendering it moot. I judged it, and said so, based on the music itself and how it was sung. I'll try not to ignore what you say and then I'll hope not to ignore you either. I agree with the point your making, which is why I made a disclaimer. What do you think is the purpose of a disclaimer?

Regarding the rest of what you wrote, Bobby:

The disciples were surmised as unlearned and ignorant men, but that isn't an endorsement for not learning and ignorance. Psalms actually says play skillfully. It says the praise could be great. We should strive to develop that for God.

Of course, I also said that this wasn't the ONLY kind of praise. That alone should have shortened your comment considerably. It's difficult to judge your hypothetical music produced with their instruments. Based on what I said my purpose was for posting this music, I read in your comment the implication that we should leave the really good playing to the world for its pagan purposes and we Christians for the God of heaven, should ignore the wonder and glory of the heavenly throne room (Rev 4 & 5), and great playing and singing, for your minimalist, reductionist approach. It MUST be an either/or. We can strive for greatness because that might make someone in a third world country get an inferiority complex.

I see gigantic praise in the Old Testament and in heaven and I believe we should strive for that. I believe it is a model for us.

By the way, Appalachian hicks are just as prone to sing for themselves, and to hoe down for self gratification. I think I could argue that they and their descendants do this far more than someone is prone to formalism.

David Warner said...

I like this discussion.

Music is an element of worship. In worship, God always deserves the best. The question is: Is this "best" relative or objective? I will leave this question for a pastor to discuss. I personally hold that it is objective.

Anyways, a passage that would clear up this issue is Malachi 1:6-14, in which God rejects second-class sacrifices in His worship. It is very serious because God demands honor and reverence from His people (vv. 6, 7), and He will not accept a shabby offering(vv. 8, 9). Also, the passage indicates that He will reject both the offering and the person giving the offering (vv. 9, 13), as He did with Cain. The Jews at that time probably thought that since they did not have much, coming from a captivity, they could offer God whatever they thought was best. But God lets them know that He had a set standard of what He thought was best, even though they did not have much at the time (cf. Ex. 12:5; Lev. 1:3). This meant that the Jews had to strive and give up their best to God, even if it meant living with and owning the second-class animals.

Even with the example of the wise men who came to worship the Messiah, they fell down, worshiped, and offered Christ costly gifts, having traveled so far.

So with the issue of music, should not churches produce the best music for the Lord? Now the members of a church may not be able to sing well, but any church should strive to achieve the best in music for the Lord.

I probably could say more. I hope I said all of this in meekness. I don't want to be over-weaning. Just let me know your thoughts.

Bobby said...

Kent wrote: "The point of praise to God through music is not for the proclamation of the truth. I would be happy to have you show me a verse that shows that."

Maybe I'm not understanding this passage, but here is my answer:
Ps 96:1 ¶ O sing unto the LORD a new song: sing unto the LORD, all the earth.
2 Sing unto the LORD, bless his name; shew forth his salvation from day to day.
3 Declare his glory among the heathen, his wonders among all people.
It seems to me that we can sing for God and to proclaim truth.

Regarding the "affected" style of singing: If a preacher changed his voice upon entering the pulpit you would disapprove. I know this from conversations with you. The "affected" style is fake. A man should preach with the voice God gave him. What is the difference with singing? Why is it good for people to sing in a strained and abnormal way when they could use their actual voice?

I'm positive that "appalachian hicks" (I am one) do enjoy singing and making music. I enjoy singing and making music. I give to the Lord and I enjoy it! I go to church for the Lord and I enjoy it! I sing to the Lord and I enjoy it! I hope I don't do it just for me, but I do enjoy it.

Singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs for the Lord and for declaring His truth to the people and the heathen is a blessing to God and man.

If the style played on your youtube video is "best" then what was best before that style was invented?

**For all observers--Bobby is 100% anti-CCM, Christian Rock, Christian Rap, etc.--But he is not for Christian opera either**

Kent Brandenburg said...

"Among the heathen," not "to the heathen." We aren't proclaiming the song to the heathen, so you are misunderstanding what "among" means. Actually, I don't think you are misunderstanding, because, you actually aren't a hick---your mom was an English major or something like that, which is why you write with good grammar, etc. Neither of your parents or you talk or act like hicks.

When you write about music, it sounds like you don't understand music. I don't think that is true, but that's what you sound like. I know you have incredible musical ability, but I'm talking about music itself philosophically. If you listen to this particular sacred number, it doesn't sound strained at all. I hear their vowels and consonants and they are pronouncing them correctly based on what I read in the dictionary. They are singing those in a way to keep the mouth open and the voice to be free, not strained. The straining is when someone pinches his voice, and often for affect to sound more country, which he may think is more authentic because it isn't a pure sound, but something he made up on his own at the moment (jazz principle). I don't think there is a merit in saying the vowels and consonants in a personally preferable way. Part of why they sing the vowels and the consonants the same is because they want to have "one voice," to sing as one, which is part of the definition of choir. Letters do have distinct sounds.

And music is not like preaching. Music is an art. It is to be arranged in and sung in a beautiful manner. You may think that hick is beautiful, but I would challenge you on that. Hick might be about how you feel, but the beauty of the music is about the beauty of God, which makes the music not so human like hick, but more transcendent like holiness and the nature of God. There are many other acceptable forms that I would support for praise. Of course, I said that, but for some reason, you've got to stick with either/or, that we're even wrong to offer God something huge, majestic, big, and beautiful. When someone preaches and uses a fake voice---yes, I think it is fake. But someone doesn't sing like he talks (unless perhaps he's Johnny Cash). And it isn't contrived. It is singing. And it is sung and played to be beautiful. Part of what makes it beautiful is the range in which it is sung, the harmony, which is an art, a skill.

Someone's taste can be altered by what he listens to and plays and sings. He might get a thrill and a great feeling out of his hoe-down and honky-tonk, and he mistakes that feeling for the Holy Spirit and then worship. Rather than starting with Who God is, he starts with what he likes because of the feeling he gets, and then he plays and sings it and calls it worship. This is why the Charismatic movement, revivalism, Southern Gospel, and CCM are interrelated. They all have some of the same roots.

(continued in next comment)

Kent Brandenburg said...

What you are listening to is not "opera music." That being said, some opera singers have the best voices and are the best singers in the world. They sing well. If they sing for themselves as part of a play or drama in a language you can't understand, I understand why you don't like that or others. For some it is the beauty of their voice, the strength, the nuance, the range, the power, the clarity, the freedom, and the enunciation of the words.

You curiously write: "If the style played on your youtube video is "best" then what was best before that style was invented?"

In my first answers to your questions, I wrote: "I'm not saying this is the best, but it is a good example. We should be striving for this, instead of the trite." And then you put "best" in quotes as if I said this was best. I would actually have some criticism of this piece, but I believe that is very good. But to answer the question, I believe that something similar to this, like it, is what we read about in the Bible. A big chorus sung skillfully (meaning on the same note, without fleshly syncopation [and I'm not saying that all syncopation is fleshly], pronounced well, harmonized well, in sync, hitting the right notes, not diverting from the correct notes, etc.) is seen all over the psalms and elsewhere.

A church of 30-50 will not likely have this big music, but they can start building toward it. Some can learn how to sing correctly and play correctly.

Some of the greatest music ever written was written by believers with the design to glorify God when the Bible was impacting Europe after the Reformation. The same kind of music was sung in Baptist churches. Consider Benjamin Keach.

Some of the new music to which you refer, Bobby, is actually where the innovation in music comes from.

Bobby said...

Psalm 96:1 commands to sing to the Lord.

Psalm 96:2 commands to shew forth his salvation

Psalm 96:3 commands to declare his glory among the heathen.

I'm not kidding when I say maybe I'm misunderstanding this. Maybe Spurgeon is too. Maybe Clarke is too.

Sing, shew the salvation, declare his glory . . . Where? Among the heathen. Why? It seems to me that we would do so that they may hear of Him. As we sing of His salvation they hear. If we sing Scripture and Gospel they hear.

Does this replace preaching? No. Does it excuse using their musical styles to get them in? No.

I'm not "messing with you." I honestly need help if I'm misunderstanding this.

Thanks for the answers so far. I'm looking forward to you being here in the fall.

Kent Brandenburg said...

I've preached Psalm 96. I also wrote an article about it over at Jackhammer awhile back.

Here's how I believe someone should understand it. We want God to be praised. We want the whole earth to praise Him. That's why we're calling on the whole earth to praise the Lord. But notice, we're even calling on the whole world to sing its songs to God, not to people. So vv. 1-2 are calling on everyone to sing praises to God. We get to verse three and we are announcing (the understanding of the Hebrew verb in the Piel) God's glory to the heathen, and God's wonders among all people. Why are we doing that? So that they will praise the Lord. However, we are not singing to them. We are declaring that glory among them.

So what's the point? We want everyone to praise God. That's what God wants man to do. That isn't that we are singing to unsaved people. I think you'll find that what I'm saying is exactly what Spurgeon is saying.

One message to Christians here is not to be ashamed to praise God everywhere. What people get out of that is how important God is to us and that we are not ashamed of Him. We are willing to praise Him everywhere. The point isn't though that we go out and doing an evangelistic singing campaign.

It seems to me that you are stretching the understanding here so that you will be able to look at music the same way you do as preaching. They're different. We don't sing to people, but to God. We ask what he wants. You talked about "affected" speech. We sing different than we speak. We hold out words. We sing with a particular rhythm. If we are doing choral music, we should all sing the same vowel sound, pronounce it the same. A good choir director will work on that, getting the same "o" sound, the same "e" sound, and the same "a" sound, among the others. He will work on showing how to pronounce the letter "r" and "t," etc. to make sure that those letters are sung correctly. When the vowel sounds are sung, they are sung openly to keep the throat open, so as not to pinch off the sound. To do that, for instance, with the letter "o," it might sound like "aaaaahhhhh" when it is being held out.

(part one)

Kent Brandenburg said...

You mocked the "ooooing" that this choir did. I thought it was beautiful. I believe that they created a sound with their voices that was for an effect, a beautiful effect, that expressed a feeling to God. The same kind of thing is done with musical instruments. The beautiful sound being sung or played to God is done in honor of Him, of His greatness. That you can't or won't see that does boggle me.

I do believe that we should train Africans, South American mountain people, and Appalachian rural Americans a better way to praise God. If they start with something that they sincerely know, I understand that, but to stay there because somehow its more authentic if they use the music that has been played by their secular forefathers---that's wrong. I think you would find this to be an interesting and, I think, unbiased history of Appalachian music:

We have to consider that a form of music doesn't properly represent God. I think that music can too be formalistic. However, just because it is slow and ornate, more than what you are accustomed, because you enjoy the string tub, Jew's harp, tamborine, and banjo, doesn't mean that it is in fact formalistic.

Scott Aniol has written a good article on music and culture, and contextualization as it relates to music here:

I don't believe that all cultural expressions are equal and that this can be judged objectively like David referenced in his comment. I also think he made some tremendous points and made them respectfully.

You are making one of the main CCM arguments against traditional sacred music. You believe that there is an authenticity to singing the song from your cultural experience. John the Baptist must have sung some kind of back of the desert type of music. I'm not coming from a position of cultural bias. I grew up with country western music. That isn't traditional sacred music. We sang "Turn Your Radio On" and "Get All Excited" in church. There is a Godly culture from Europe that we should emulate. It was written by men Who cared to offer God something in fitting with His nature.

I think this is good to discuss and doing it in public could help other people.

(part two)

Bobby said...


I'm really having a hard time understanding that we sing to God but not to people. Of course we sing to God. Just like I preach for the Lord I sing for the Lord. However, people are there and listening in Psalm 96, just like people are listening when I preach for the Lord and to people. Who is David singing to in Ps 2:10, 11?

" ¶ Be wise now therefore, O ye kings: be instructed, ye judges of the earth.
11 Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling.
12 Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all they that put their trust in him."

He is singing to God and to people. He is preaching with song! Now that does not do away with the absolute necessity of preaching. You know that I'm all about preaching both publicly and privately. But the fact is that lost people do hear us singing. We declare God's glory to them in song as well as in the message. We all so declare it by our good works which glorify Him.

Just because it is an argument made by the CCM crowd in their attempt to justify using the world to reach the world, we do not need to use some type of scalpel to parse and divide between "among" and "to." How can you say we are singing among but not to? They are there, they have ears, and they are listening.

Again, David instructed the heathen to repent with his song. I honestly don't get it, but I'm beginning to think that much of your argument rests on this doctrine that we sing to God alone among men, but not to men.

Psalm 11 is another instance of David composing a song to God and yet to people. He asks a question and answers it--it is a message to people!

Now, maybe I'm just thick-headed and don't get your point, but I'm trying. Help me understand. (And everyone better know that I'm not being sarcastic. I want to know.)

Bobby said...

Kent wrote: "You mocked the "ooooing" that this choir did. I thought it was beautiful. I believe that they created a sound with their voices that was for an effect, a beautiful effect, that expressed a feeling to God. The same kind of thing is done with musical instruments. The beautiful sound being sung or played to God is done in honor of Him, of His greatness. That you can't or won't see that does boggle me."

That sounds to me like you like it. It suits your taste. You consider it beautiful. The rock-n-roll crowd says the same for their stuff.

Consider the same paragraph with a couple of words changed:

"You mocked the crooning, slurring, and moaning that this band did. I thought it was beautiful. I believe that they created a sound with their voices that was for an effect, a beautiful effect, that expressed a feeling to God. The same kind of thing is done with musical instruments. The beautiful sound being sung or played to God is done in honor of Him, of His greatness. That you can't or won't see that does boggle me."

I don't care for the tamborine or Jew's harp. I've played a washtub bass, but I prefer a good upright.

Our church has violins, trumpets, trombone, upright bass, flutes, clarinets, and piano. We also use guitar and mandolin on occasion.

Regarding the mention of only the best sacrifice: Amen! However some could bring heifers and lambs and others could only bring turtledoves. I sometimes get the sense from some fundamentalists that the turtledoves would have been scorned with a little laughter in the sleeve by the heifer-offering types.

As far as the article goes, I grew up in the Appalachians and have been familiar with the music for 30 years. Her piece does not line up
with what I've learned.
Winston's "History of the Banjo" would tell quite a different story from the article you cited. My experience is that he is more in tune (pun inteded) with the facts than the lady who penned the one you refer to.

One final thought for tonight. Did you find that the extremely intricate and difficult style was the one passed down through the ages from NT church to NT church (pillar and ground) or did they practice a more simple form of singing praise and worship?

If it were not for para-church universities and colleges that have been greatly influenced by Romanism and Protestantism would the style you prefer exist in the main in Independent Baptist churches?

Did you get this taste and appreciation in the local church or at the para-church Christian college?

Gary Webb said...

Very good discussion. Rather than being at odds with Kent & Bobby, I find myself agreeing with both. I do believe that music is for proclaiming the truth. That is why those who sing & write music should "Let the Word of Christ dwell in [them] richly..." Colossians 3:16. Yes, I know that passage is speaking of music in a church. I am opposed to some type of "evangelistic concert" that uses wordly, unscriptural music & does not have preaching to follow the music. But the music of God's assemblies, wherever it is sung, proclaims truth.
Also, I would have to say that operatic & "hick" music BOTH use AFFECTED speech in their singing. Kent is right that in almost all singing we have to change the way we pronounce words - it is a poetical art form in which words have to be fit to the musical forms. However both the opera style & the "country hick" style BOTH affect their voices TOO MUCH for MY TASTE, & probably for most people's tastes. The words become somewhat incomprehensible.
In Christianity, SIMPLE IS GOOD. But simple can also be lazy. Culture must be recognized, but culture almost always should be elevated [sanctified; glorified] by the practical application of the truth. Who would argue against that?

Anonymous said...

At the risk of sounding like one of those "music is amoral" people (and anyone on here who knows me knows I'm not), might we not have here a disagreement primarily founded in personal preferences about music style?

ALL singing, to one degree or another, is affected. I don't know anybody who speaks the same way they sing, whether they sing simple hymns in church, opera, or "Christian" rock music. Singing is a style of speech that has very specific indicators that separate it from other styles of vocalisation.

Music style and quality should be judged from Scripture via standards of what qualifies as worldliness, doctrinal content, etc. right?

Kent Brandenburg said...

I'll come back later today to make some comments. I've got to go mow, work on the car, help my mom with her computer, and then visit my daughter's soccer practice (her coach has cancer and we'll be talking about the new coach).

Bobby said...


Precisely my point (your statement about style preference). My assertion is that Kent prefers the "high church" style. I don't believe it is sinful, but I don't accept it is necessarily "better" than the kind of simple singing we do in your church with the piano and instruments or with the guitar when my wife sings.

Thinking of my wife--there is someone who sings with the same voice that she speaks with. Yes, she holds words to correspond to the music, but she does not change her voice with the "affected" sound.

Now, she and I can sing with the "high lonesome" or "nasal" sound, but we don't. I've heard a lot of folks put on the mountain sound and I've heard a lot of folks that sound appalachian when singing because that is exactly as they talk. It is not affected.

Ever hear Billy Kelly sing? He sang without any changing of his voice. Again, he adjusted how long or short he held words, but he did not change his voice.

My over-all point is that Kent or anyone else cannot prove that the operatic sound is more Biblical. We should reject those styles that are obviously rooted in rebellion, lust of the flesh, sensuality, etc. Outside of that we should be happy that folks are singing to the Lord. If anything, the simple, straight-forward singing done by multitudes in the Lord's churches would have more claim to being "the way" than that invented by Romanism.

Bobby said...

Brother Webb,

Good words. I'm not for simple-only, but I am simply for not being anti-simple when simple is simply the best one has to offer. Pretty simple, huh?

Kent Brandenburg said...


We sing to God because in every single instance of singing in scripture, it is to God. It is never to people. Will people hear? Yes. The people don't guide what it is that we offer God. He does. The fact that the lyrical content of Psalm 2 is a command to people doesn't mean that it is sung to people. God gave us those Words and we sing them to Him. The content is the truth. So again, there isn't anyplace that says songs are sung to people. It's always to God. It is true that people are taught and admonished. Relative to unsaved people, they see it and fear (Psalm 40:1-3). Why do we sing to God words that are commands to people? Because God wants us to do that. Should people pay attention to those words? Yes, they're God's Word. But the choice of music should have nothing to do with what unsaved people want to hear.

From your perspective, they should be sung in an unaffected voice, that is, with no vibrato in essence, if I'm to understand you correctly. Vibrato doesn't mean it is "opera." An opera is a play set to music. The music is very dramatic, since it is a drama. What I'm telling you is that opera singers have some of the best voices in the world. They often sing in a foreign language so that none of us can understand. It is easy to see why we can't understand what they're singing. If you listen to a good opera singer, singing English, i.e., Gordon Greer, you can understand all the Words, and when he sings, he is singing the notes exactly as written on the page. He isn't improvising at all.

Like Titus said, the point here is to judge this based upon scripture, not to judge it as a matter of taste. I already told you what I grew up with. I've never said that I believe in a certain kind of music because of a parachurch organization and its effects on me. If you read my music book, I argue from scripture. I believe that is a total cop-out. It is typical too to say that music that is slow, not up-beat, not overly syncopated, and not toe-tapping, is Bob Jones University music. It was caused by Bob Jones. In this case, Bobby is assuming that I got my music position from Maranatha, which in turn came from BJU. And you say this Bobby after I show you that this is the kind of music that Baptists have sung. Most of the tunes in our song book are hundreds of years old and they are the same tunes that Baptists used.

I say we sing "to" God because that what Scripture says. The heathen may be present and in the one case they are there for the singing (Psalm 40:1-3), they see it and fear. However, the music isn't sung to them.

Bobby writes: "Again, David instructed the heathen to repent with his song. I honestly don't get it, but I'm beginning to think that much of your argument rests on this doctrine that we sing to God alone among men, but not to men."

This "doctrine" is what Scripture teaches. The music is worship. It is offered to God. It is not sung to the heathen. Those psalms that you are quoting were sung in Israel as part of their congregational worship. In the New Testament, they are sung by the church (Eph 5:19; Col 3:16) among the church members. The fact that there is a message there for the lost, doesn't mean that the people of God sing it to the lost. They sing it to God. Again, I do think that you get this point.

(part one)

Kent Brandenburg said...

Bobby says: "That sounds to me like you like it. It suits your taste. You consider it beautiful."

What?!? There isn't anything wrong with the "ooooohhhhing," nothing. It is beautiful. It isn't a matter of taste. Just like a clarinet or flute or violin can be beautiful in its sound. It isn't a sound that is fleshly. I like it because it is a good sound. I don't choose to like it out of taste. If I chose music for myself from a position of the flesh, I'd choose something different, and it wouldn't honor God. However, my "taste" has adjusted to that which is fitting with God's nature. Your paragraph about crooning and slurring is wrong. It isn't crooning (Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra) and it isn't moaning. There is a huge difference between what they were doing with the "ooooohhhhing" and with rock music. Did you notice that it is acapella? There is no instrumentation, so they provided an introduction with their voices. But the instrumentation doesn't slide in its intonation from note to note and it isn't crooning. Crooning is essentially a jazz technique incorporated into popular music.

Nobody has said that the music must always be elaborate to bring praise to God. I again say that we should have it as a goal to not only be the best, but to be as great as possible. Greatness would be in fitting with God's greatness.

The lady who wrote the piece on Appalachian music is the same as what I've found about it in many different places. I believe it accurately represents where Appalachian music came from. And it explains why you feel some similar rhythm to that of popular music today.

I believe there are certain tell-tale lines in her piece that should be considered:

"clergy . . . had no interest in the spread of secular music, therefore, not much of the latter survived in written form."

"Their simpler, repetitious text of verse and refrain was easier to sing and learn and produced an emotional fervor in the congregation."

I'm not familiar with the book on the banjo that you mentioned, but most information about the banjo shows an origination much like what we see in her article. I don't think they're all in collusion against you, Bobby. They don't mind the music. They're not writing to put it down. They're just reporting.

When I go through the psalms, and I've preached through them, I see music written for congregation, for choir, for solo, and even for instrumentation. Nowhere do I read, "keep it simple." I read "loud," "skillful," and "great." I believe that if it is a choir or special group, it should be, well, special. It should be done in a very practiced and skilled manner. We can see the importance of this with the choir in OT Israel and in the heavenly choir of Rev 4 & 5. I believe that we should pronounce letters properly. I believe that we shouldn't be attempting to target the flesh of the audience to get them moving, which is what the honky-tonk, saloon, or bluegrass.

To get a history of bluegrass, read Wikipedia:

It clashes with the concept of sacred. It fits in with the idea of "world."

I believe we judge the music based on objective principles, which is what I do in my book on music. We also look at history. Baptists in the colonies started in the Northeast and I don't believe they played and sang anything like bluegrass or country gospel.

(part two)

Kent Brandenburg said...

Gary Webb,

Can you show me the verse that says that the song, that musical worship, is directed toward people? The content should be the truth, yes (John 4:23-24). When Paul writes "let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly," it is parallel with "be filled with the Spirit." The first result of those parallel commands is singing to God. The Word and the Spirit will affect us toward singing to God. That isn't proclaiming the truth. At the most, the people that hear are taught and admonished as a byproduct of the worship. However, they are not the audience of it. Who we sing to will change the nature of the singing. If I told my wife I loved her, but the audience was a crowd of people, that would change the nature of that communication. Because of that, it would take on a different meaning.

I haven't argued for opera music in the church. That is Bobby putting on his characterization of traditional sacred music. He says it is opera. I'm for singing the vowel sounds that are on the page, pronouncing them correctly. Everything you said after that I agreed with. Bobby said that he agreed with it too, which is interesting to me, in light of the fact that it doesn't disagree with anything that I've been saying.

When we talk of simplicity, if we are talking about the plainness of scripture, I'm fine with it. That doesn't clash with doing something great. God wants praise---congregational, solo, small group, large group, etc. Some of it should be very, very good though. And it is all directed to Him, not something written to get the toes tapping of the people, which is often interpreted as more authentic because of the feelings that accompany it. The authenticity of feelings is the same basis for most CCM today, including grunge and rap.

Thanks for your input.

Kent Brandenburg said...


I don't disagree with your comment at all. I don't believe that what I'm talking about is a matter of "my taste." My belief is that I adjust my taste to fit into God's taste. How do we know what His is? Through scripture, its principles, just like you wrote.

I grew up watching hee-haw, the Captain and Tenille, Donny and Marie, and the Lawrence Welk show. That is "my taste." There isn't anything they play on those shows that I believe should be offered to God. I don't listen to that kind of music anymore, because I believe it makes provision for the flesh.

Gary Webb said...

Brother Brandenburg,
I hate to contradict you. You said, "Can you show me the verse that says that the song, that musical worship, is directed toward people? The content should be the truth, yes (John 4:23-24). When Paul writes 'let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly," it is parallel with "be filled with the Spirit.'" You are incorrect on each of these points. The reference is to Colossians 3:16-17 and is in the context of "forbearing one another" (v. 13). In fact, notice the full quote of the verse to which I referred: "Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord." The music is to be used to "admonish one another" & doesn't refer to being filled with the Spirit. The following verse says that we are to do it "in the name of the Lord Jesus", but the music is said to be for the purpose of admonishing and teaching. We do not do that to the Lord.

Anonymous said...

Hi Pastor Brandenburger,

I guess the question comes down to this: Is there only one style of music that represents God's taste in music, to which we are to adjust our own tastes. If so, then what is that style of music? If not, then this suggest that there are multiple styles of music which represent God's "taste" in music, and therefore we can choose from among them, which would then make it a matter of our own taste, right?

Certainly, however, any musical style that appeals to the flesh, the words of which or the style of which appeals to the rebellious sin nature that is within man, ought to be shunned by faithful Christians. Rock, rap, jazz, R&B, hip-hop, "oldies", Country, the list goes on - even if these things have the moniker "Christian" attached to the front of them.

Kent Brandenburg said...

Bro Webb,

Col 3:16 doesn't contradict what we see elsewhere in the Bible.

"Teaching" and "admonishing" are pres act participles. "One another" is in the accusative. So one another is taught and admonished. How? singing to the Lord. The songs are sung to the Lord. Colossians 3:16 ends with the definite article in the dative and the Lord in the dative, "to the Lord." One another are taught and admonished with singing to the Lord. The direction again is to the Lord. My question was, "Can you show me the verse that says that the song, that musical worship, is directed toward people?" The fact that "one another" is accusative and "the Lord" is dative indicates through the grammar of the verse where the psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs are directed. If they are not directed to the Lord, do you think that one another is taught and admonished? I don't. If it is directed toward the people, it isn't worship any more.

In Eph 5:19, the singing and making melody are "to the Lord." This is what you see in every instance in the psalms.

I know that this might come across as a technicality, but it is a technicality I have been expressing for my entire ministry, not just now. One of the first chapters of my book is "the direction of biblical, godly music." It is directed to God. Do the saints benefit from this? Yes. They are taught and admonished. I believe that when we direct it to the people, it changes the nature of the communication.

Kent Brandenburg said...


I do believe that there are different styles that fit within the perimeter of biblical.

My whole point here has been to strive for greatness in praise, not that this is the only kind of praise that we offer, but that it should be a goal.

Gary Webb said...

Brother Brandenburg,
I don't disagree that all music used in worship is sung to the Lord. I guess we could say the same about preaching - it must first be "to the Lord", that is, it must first be to please Him & faithful to His truth. However, we do not just sing to the Lord in our worship, we are admonishing one another. All corporate worship is supposed to "exhort one another to love & to good works." I understand & agree with your point about music being to the Lord, but it seems that you are emphasizing it to the exclusion of a clearly stated Bible fact that we are to sing for the purpose of admonishing & teaching one another. I have given the passage, & the grammatical particulars do not disprove the clearly stated principle. To go back to your primary point, I do believe that we ought to give our best, that there are musical forms that are more beautiful & that take greater training & talent. I believe that we ought to strive to "play skillfully". However, that does not exclude either the fact that simple music sung in worship is honorable to God, & that music used in worship has a primary purpose of admonishing & teaching those who are in attendance at worship.

Anonymous said...

Hi Pastor Brandenburger,

I agree that we should strive for greatness in praise. So this brings up another question then: What if you have a so-so presentation of the sort of high-church music that Pastor Missile doesn't care for versus a very skillfully, well-practiced mountain hymn played on a dulcimer?

A bit off-topic, and I don't want to be a source of temptation to you to break the 10th commandment, but Jane and I went out to Mama Dip's for lunch with a lady who's been visiting the church recently. I was um-um good.

Kent Brandenburg said...

OK, this is for anyone, but it is addressing the exegetical point that Pastor Webb and I are discussing.

Can someone give me a verse that specifically says these words, "sing to (people, the saints, the church," but it must start with "sing to" or "sang to" or "singing to" or "sang praises to," something like that)?

Can someone give me a verse that specifically says these words, "preach to the Lord" or "teach to the Lord" or "admonish the Lord."

Psalm 9:11 Sing praises to the LORD, which dwelleth in Zion: declare among the people his doings.

Psalm 47:6 Sing praises to God, sing praises: sing praises unto our King, sing praises.

Psalm 68:4 Sing unto God, sing praises to his name: extol him that rideth upon the heavens by his name JAH, and rejoice before him.

Psalm 75:9 I will sing praises to the God of Jacob.

Judges 5:3 Hear, O ye kings; give ear, O ye princes; I, even I, will sing unto the LORD; I will sing praise to the LORD God of Israel.

Psalm 7:17 I will praise the LORD according to his righteousness: and will sing praise to the name of the LORD most high.

Psalm 9:2 I will be glad and rejoice in thee: I will sing praise to thy name, O thou most High.

Psalm 30:12 To the end that my glory may sing praise to thee, and not be silent. O LORD my God, I will give thanks unto thee for ever.

Psalm 104:33 I will sing unto the LORD as long as I live: I will sing praise to my God while I have my being.

Colossians 3:16 singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.

Ephesians 5:19 singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord;

Exodus 15:1 Then sang Moses and the children of Israel this song unto the LORD, and spake, saying, I will sing unto the LORD, for he hath triumphed gloriously: the horse and his rider hath he thrown into the sea.

1 Chronicles 16:23 Sing unto the LORD, all the earth; shew forth from day to day his salvation.

Psalm 13:6 I will sing unto the LORD, because he hath dealt bountifully with me.

Plus 50 or more examples of "singing unto the Lord, versus "singing unto men, unto people, unto the church, unto the saints, unto the heathen." I will await the one example in scripture of singing TO or UNTO a human being.

2 Samuel 22:50 Therefore I will give thanks unto thee, O LORD, among the heathen, and I will sing praises unto thy name.

Does this verse say, "Sing unto the heathen"?

Psalm 18:49 Therefore will I give thanks unto thee, O LORD, among the heathen, and sing praises unto thy name.

Does this verse say, "Sing unto the heathen?"

Psalm 9:11 Sing praises to the LORD, which dwelleth in Zion: declare among the people his doings.

Does this verse say "sing unto the people"?

Kent Brandenburg said...


Mama Dips sounds good!

I think this is good dulcimer:

There is only one minor correction I would make in his arrangement. I have found that the often dulcimer arrangements throw in slides to make it more "authentic" or more "mountain."

I think this isn't good dulcimer:

This has rhythm that I believe is fleshly.

I'm not going to make a major critique of either, but if something is supposed to be presented to God, I want it all to be acceptable to him. That doesn't mean, by the way, that I haven't had one thing in our church that I believe was unacceptable or that my kids have played that wasn't unacceptable. Not that anyone would bring something like that up. However, the percentage of acceptable to unacceptable is very, very high.

Bobby said...

I have never suggested that people guide what we offer God.

Psalm 2 is a song. It was and is sung with people listening. The song commands certain people to repent. I cannot understand why you will not concede that.

I have never said that the music is opera. I have said it is operatic in its style. It is similar to opera. I'm not opposed to vibrato. I'm simply pointing out that when the voice is completely changed to a different voice (like it is not the same person singing as was talking before the song) it seems affected and strained.

I have not assumed you got your music position from BJU/Maranatha. I have asked!

You have not shown that Baptists sung this style. I am familiar with the fact that the tunes have historical Baptist use, but I am contending that the style is not that of the Baptists down through the ages. Pointing to one English Baptist does not prove much.

If you will re-read my previous post you will find that I was not stating that they were crooning. I was taking your statement and substituting some words to make a point.

I have never stated that we should attempt "to target the flesh of the audience to get them moving."

I have never suggested that Baptists in the Northeast colonies ever played bluegrass or country gospel.

Finally, I do not understand your statement that we are not to sing to people. I see a song (Psalm 2) that was written for God's people to sing and it addresses lost people. I see that we are to sing about God's greatness among the heathen. They have ears. They are listening. I'm hoping the Scripture we are singing might be effective especially as they then hear it preached and see it lived.

I love you and respect you as an older brother in the Lord, but I honestly do not appreciate you telling me twice hear that you do not believe me when I say "I don't get it." Charity demands that I think the best and assume that you are not meaning that you think I am lying, but that is the impression some might get. Just so you understand, "I DO NOT GET THIS." There!

Hope you are having a good Lord's Day.

Anonymous said...

Hi Pastor Brandenburger,

I know this probably isn't exactly along the line of what you're asking for, but w.r.t. the question of singing vs. preaching to the Lord, but Colossians 3:23-24 tells us that *whatsoever* we do, do it as unto the Lord, and I understand the meaning there to be along the lines of what Pastor Webb is saying - if I'm understanding him correctly, when he's saying that we preach unto the Lord, it's meant in the sense that we are to preach the Word in a way that honours Him - even if we're not preaching AT Him. That's the sense I would apply Col. 3:23-24 to this.

As far as music type goes, yes, man in his sinfulness can degrade and profane just about any type of music - even classical or operatic can be perverted into something fleshly or supportive of our innate rebelliousness. There are a few types I would think of as irredeemable (like jazz), however.

Re: Mama Dip's, just remember that when Exodus 20:17 says "....nor any thing that is thy neighbour's.", that includes his pan-fried chicken! ;)

Kent Brandenburg said...

Pastor Mitchell,

You've stated that you don't get it. I've attempted to help you get it with my last comment. I don't think I can make it any plainer than that. I'll await someone actuallya answering my questions in that comment so that I'll know that they understand the comment.

Why would someone sing Psalm 2 to God and not "TO" God's people or "TO" unbelievers? Because all singing in Scripture is "TO GOD." What good would it do for believers to sing it "TO GOD"? It would praise God. That is good for believers. Believers who will be taught and admonished by it will obey what the Psalms say to believers.

Finally, I want to discuss the meaning of "to" with you. "To" is used for a particular purpose, and used in distinction to the words such as "among" or "for" or "on behalf of" or "of" or some other preposition. This is why on the one hand no one is showing me a place in scripture that says to sing "TO" a person, and yet scripture says "sing TO God" 70 plus times or more. Because a person hears something that is said "TO" someone else does not mean that it was said "TO" that person who overheard it. He has heard it, but it was not said "TO him."

The understanding of "to" to which I'm referring is the first two definitions of "to" in the dictionary:

1. (used for expressing motion or direction toward a point, person, place, or thing approached and reached, as opposed to from): They came to the house.
2. (used for expressing direction or motion or direction toward something) in the direction of; toward: from north to south.

We get our belief and practice from Words.

Does God want the content of those psalms proclaimed to unbelievers? Yes. Does He want it sung to them? NO. All of this singing is TO GOD.

I talked about Benjamin Keach, but I linked to a book that dealt with Baptists period. The whole book was about Baptists and their music. When we judge this subject.

You say that you didn't say what Baptists in the Northeast sang, but where did the Baptists in the colonial period come from? They came from the Northeast. You used Baptists in North Carolina as a basis for what music is correct or scriptural. The leaders started in the Northeast and moved down. Surely some of them picked up Appalachian music along the way, but this is not to say that Appalachian music is acceptable.

My point all along is to judge by biblical principles. We started with one choir number and haven't at all showed how that it was wrong after 37 comments here. The point of it was show "greatness" in praise, in the true meaning of "great," but we've extrapolated that to say something about simplicity. I never said anything about simplicity. I just gave an example of greatness, something that hasn't been proven to be wrong.


I believe that everything a believer does is supposed to be worship. Yes. It is service offered to God. We know that.

I don't believe that a simple song on the dulcimer that is glorifying to God fits within the definition of "greatness." "Greatness" is not all that we offer God, but it is something we should strive for, still my whole point for giving this example. To get to greatness, much work should be done, and we should do that work, because God is worth it.

Bobby said...

Brother Brandenburg,

Who woulda thunk it? A simple post of a youtube video of a choir and you get 37 comments. You can always thank me later. :-)

Thanks for the conversation. We are really looking forward to you and Mrs. B. coming here in November for our tenth anniversary meeting. I'll have to read your book on music before then. I'll read and consider. Thanks for putting the effort into it.

Kent Brandenburg said...

Maybe we can have this be a teaching moment for everyone.

I'd rather talk about things than quietly, but obviously disagree. And we can grow, can't we? That's what we are predestined to do.

Bobby said...

Maybe we should follow the president's lead . . . I'll get four banjos and you, GW, Titus, and I can get together and pick a while at the picnic table out back. Just a thought.