Christian Music’s Finest Hour
by Rev Michael Bresciani
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In February of 2005 Judson Cornwall one on America’s finest teachers and a prolific author on the subject of praise died peacefully after a four year bout with cancer. For the last quarter of his life he taught thousands how to praise God. He started his emphasis on praise and worship in the church at a time when the praise and worship element of the music industry was still in its infancy.
Sometime before this grand old gentlemen of faith died I heard him tell a story I have never forgotten. He was called to a Christian home to counsel with a family that had been experiencing a great deal of discord among them. He advised them on several levels on how to deal with their problems. Finally he said that he noticed that all the time he was in their house that he could hear the TV playing in one room and from the other rooms came the sound of the radio with rock and roll, loud hype and advertising clamor.
He told them to shut off all the noise and replace it with praise music, gospel songs and hymns. They took everything he said to heart and replaced the sound clutter with good Christian music. On his next visit to their house he found a peaceful setting where each family member conducted themselves quietly, courteously and with respect. Sound too good to be true? Make no mistake, it is true and it will always work. It is the combined power of the gospel and of music.
The Bible says that just a few things from this present time will cross the great divide and traverse to the presence of God. They are the souls of men, the product of loving deeds, and yes, music. We will be making music and singing for all eternity. What does all this say about music? Simply put music, anointed Christ honoring music has connected to it an eternal quality. It is with good cause that those who are gifted with the power to communicate Gods message with musical craft call their work a “music ministry.”
Those who labor in a music ministry today have more tools and opportunities available to them than at any other time in history. Modern technology has spawned electronic production and replicating devices that can host an entire orchestra in a tiny bit of circuitry.
Even with just traditional acoustic instruments the means of publishing and distributing the sounds of the many Jubals God has raised to serve him with music can be spread around at the speed of light. MP3s, hi-tech digital editing gear, and the means of publishing and reproducing the sound by almost anyone even at home has nearly transformed the old lumbering and hapless kind of promotion known in the past.
So what’s going around these days? It is an understatement to say that the best is getting better and the fledgling sounds of the newbies is bringing up the rear with great promise and skill.
Cross genre is becoming mixed genre in gospel music. Seeing Doyle Lawson and Quicksilver appearing with Bill Gaither was only the beginning. Bluegrass gospel is being woven into the fabric of Southern Gospel and old time quartet gospel music harmoniously, to borrow a musical term. Hillsong is now in the good company of dozens of great contemporary praise groups and the sounds of worship are popping up in country gospel and Southern gospel as well.
Perhaps only a musician might notice that there is a kind of admixture of instrumentation going on these days. I have played five string banjo for thirty years and guitar for over forty years and I listen carefully to instruments and their places in the overall presentation of any particular piece of music.
It is not uncommon today to hear instruments once reserved for a specific genre being incorporated into the new sounds of ecleticity’s finest productions. Celtic and British Isles instruments like the penny whistle are carrying melodious strains in the backgrounds of many of today’s praise songs. The mandolin and the hammered dulcimer normally associated with Appalachian mountain music are showing up in every genre both as studio instruments and stage accompaniment.
Christ has promised that he would pour out his Spirit in the last days to aide all those who labor to get his gospel out to the world. (Joel 2:28) There is little doubt that Christian musicians and artists are experiencing some of that outpouring and it is readily apparent that their music is rising to meet the day.
This great company of music makers perhaps will lead thousands in music for ages to come. We have so many of them we expect to hear once again as they bring us a new song in a new and wonderful time. Who are they? The names are far too many but for a cross section just look at the names I found on just a couple of CDs featuring Christian music from various genres in my own recently purchased collection.
You can imagine the songs; I’ll give you the names. The Chuck Wagon Gang, Porter Wagoner, Tennessee Ernie Ford, George Beverly Shea, The Lewis Family, The Oakridge Boys, The Statler Brothers, Bill Gaither, Dottie Rambo, Wendy Bagwell, Melanie Walker, Suwannee River Boys, The Ruppes, The Melody Trio, Keith Green, Hillsong, Amy Grant, John Michael Talbot, Jeremy Camp, The Katinas and many others.
Most of us in the Body of Christ cannot imagine our worship experience in or out of our respective churches and gatherings without the sounds of these wonderful artists and musicians. I hope I may speak in some small way for all of us in offering our thanks to you all and this bit of encouragement. Keep up the good work because as the Lord pours out his Spirit you will see the best is yet to come.
Rev Bresciani is a columnist for several online sites and his articles on American life, Christianity and many pertinent topics are now read in every country in the world. Please visit http://www.americanprophet.org
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I was really glad to read this. So often music and the people who make it get a bad wrap for being flashy or just wanting to be "Christan Celebs". (or at least it seems that way from the people I've talk too, lol.) But it's not true in most cases. Music is the seat of emotion more then it's not. I mean , look how many times David talks about it in the Bible--and he was also a harpist. I was happy to read something that lifts up Christian music and the artists. Your list had some great people in it, too. I love Amy Grant and Keith Green though--they were my firsts! Great job!