The Truth Will Out

The truth will out!!

(Thank you Jennifer Rincon for this.)

Good day; I would like to call attention to an entry posted on your husband’s blog on March 17th: “What’s Wrong with Modern Church Music?” With great respect to Mr. Brown, the anecdote is false.

The words are from a fictional pamphlet, written by Pastor Thomas Symmes of Manhattan in 1723. (Dr. Watts’ verses would not even be published in America until 1729). Symmes is actually portraying a church-goer who does not want try a “new trend” in worship: that is, learning to read music.

The pamphlet, titled Utile Dulce, is a made-up conversation between a puritan pastor and his “neighbor.” They discuss the current state of worship, which were songs that were repetitive and easy to memorize, since most of the church was illiterate. Now that a new generation was learning how to read, the pastor wants to introduce written music into the service. The music would help the church learn new songs, and, for the first time, they could actually read what they were singing about. He hoped it would edify and revitalize worship.

The neighbor, on the other hand, is unwilling to go along with this idea. He gives a list of reasons:

(1) That it is a New Way, an Unknown Tongue.
(2) That it is not so Melodious as the Usual Way.
(3) That there are so many Tunes, we shall never have done learning.
(4) That the Practice of it give Disturbance; Roils & Exasperates men’s Spirits; grieves sundry good People, and causes them to behave themselves indecently & disorderly.
(5) That is Quakerish & Popish, and introductive of Instrumental Musick.
(6) That the Names given to the Notes are Bawdy, yea Blasphemous.
(7) That it is a Needless way, since their good Fathers that were Strangers to it, are got to Heaven without it.
(Source: Utile Dulce, pages 11-12)

The reasons are ridiculous because Symmes meant for them to sound that way.
His point was: there really is no excuse for us to not be pursuing excellence and skill in our worship, always for the glory of God.

Thank you for taking the time to read my email.

In Christ,

Jennifer Rincon
Calvary Chapel of Visalia


6 Responses

  • Dan Gross wrote on March 19, 2010

    Nicely written letter. I had gotten the impression from reading this site http://www.earlyamerica.com/review/fall97/sing.html that those arguments given were, while exaggerated, indicative of the types of arguments he was getting from his contemporaries. In fact, an essay written some 50 years later by William Romaine (which is oft-times incorrectly listed as the source of the afore-mentioned list) seem to make many of the same arguments, though in more academic (as in difficult to read ;-) ways. But I'll defer to Jennifer who appears to have expertise in this area. Thanks for the education! It certainly stands to note that "newness" in the church does not come without controversy no matter the time or form... ;-)

  • Author
    brenton wrote on March 20, 2010

    pretty amazing to think that in 13 years time it will be 300 years since this was published!! that really is quite a long time.

  • lou thomas wrote on March 20, 2010

    God gave the skylark all 12 notes,apparentley the only bird to have this range,this bird has no written music in front of him......i wonder, if you were to have 10 skylarks all together.......would they harmonise.........i sing in a worship band and really appreciate that we can learn how to harmonise and that there are set patterns... somthing amazing happens with the sound, there is nothing new under the sun,but so much to discover,it is so important what is in your heart. The churches today are seeing people released of so much hurt during worship,the same 12 notes! i am amazed at god......constantly,can you imagine what sunday mornings sound like to him from where hes sat and infact because of time difference around the globe, worship goes on all day........ wow what a privilege to be part of that!!!!!! SO as they say,sing and play your hearts out.........God be with you

  • Martin wrote on March 22, 2010

    Erm, as someone who was already using the original list that Brenton posted in seminars on worship etc., I'll now need to either, a) come up with a more accurate little illustration, b) forego an encouraging ripple of appreciative chuckling, c) pretend I haven't just read the above. Dilema!

  • Martin wrote on March 22, 2010

    man, I miss being uninformed!

  • Brenton wrote on April 12, 2010

    appreciative chuckling is under estimated!!

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