The Depths of Solemn Grandeur by Ken Myers

From Heavenly Harmony

The Depths of Solemn Grandeur

by Ken Myers

Many years ago, my undisguised disapproval of worship music that is inspired by contemporary pop music was (somewhat glibly) diagnosed by an acquaintance as an expression of a severely rationalist temperament. "You don't like these new praise songs because you don't want worship to be too emotional," explained my interlocutor. "Actually," I responded, "the problem with this music is that it isn't emotional enough. It typically lacks the aesthetic resources to express the depth of joy, sorrow, gratitude, and awe that worship demands." Well, those weren't exactly my words at the time, but it's what I was trying to convey. And my concern about the adequacy of musical language in worship has increased in the intervening years.

In The School of the Church: Worship and Christian Formation, Philip H. Pfatteicher writes that "worship is a demanding discipline that has to do with the most profound experiences a human being can undergo: the fear, love, and trust that commingle when mortals confront the Holy One of Israel." That discipline requires more than correct attitudes and intentions. It requires access to a form of expression capable of capturing (if incompletely) those deep convictions.

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Ken Myers is the host and producer of the Mars Hill Audio Journal. Formerly an arts editor with National Public Radio, he also served as editor of Eternity, the Evangelical monthly magazine, and This World, the quarterly predecessor to First Things. He also serves as music director at All Saints Anglican Church in Ivy, Virginia. He is a contributing editor for Touchstone.

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