Tag Archives: contemporary Christian music

Oratorio Oh No

I volunteer with the Saskatoon Symphony Orchestra and this past Saturday was their annual Messiah Sing-Along, and I had the privilege to work this performance. It was also the same day as Richard’s work Christmas party. The review of the Christmas party gets its own block for another day.

As we live out of town, it would have been too far out for me to go to the show and run back to Waldheim to pick up Richard in time for his par tea. I decided to buy him a ticket for the show. I should have guessed from the look of his face I made a mistake.

We all know Handel’s Messiah. Well, not really; we know the Hallelujah part of the deal. Most of the world does not realise there is a beginning, more of a middle and an end. The Hallelujah isn’t even the end of the work. Ricky O’Bannon of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra gives a great historical review:

5 Thing You Might Not Know About Handel’s Messiah

Richard suffered greatly through the performance, stating during the intermission that he should have gone to a movie. He does not like opera, though I told him this was not an opera, he obviously could not care less. I value his opinion on this subject. He has been blessed with my constant grumblings on Star Trek and The Walking Dead. 

Richard told me the combinations of sounds bothered him. I have never played my CD version of Messiah for Richard. He does find some choral performances uncomfortable to his ears. At first, I could not understand, but after taking a step into his space, I realised his point. Unlike hymns sang in church, with harmonies, the voices are singing the same words at the same time. Choir performances are not always so simple. The art comes in the waves of words, interminglings of sentences and the musical instruments filling in some of the voids. The airs and recitatives sung by the soloists mirror opera, of course, but in Messiah, these introductions to the various parts of the story are so important.

Though I no longer adhere to any religious beliefs, this piece somehow makes me miss church. The point of Messiah is to invoke feelings of love, compassion, and the need to believe. I think the history of the work, the process and the purpose for its creation is enough for me to feel the feels. I have listened to this throughout the year, like a puppy, it is for life, not just for Christmas.

I tried my best to make this performance special for both of us. As mentioned, I volunteered this day and this meant I had to leave him alone at times. The concert took place at Knox United Church in Saskatoon, a 104-year-old building, a place of history. The setting of Messiah was perfect, though not written for Christmas and not originally performed in a church (almost an unheard of thing to be done in the 18th-century), this building needed this piece played here. The beauty of Handel’s music and the words of Charles Jennens made for a wonderful moment. I was part of a truncated performance of Messiah in university when I was part of the Concert Choir. our performance of the work was done at First Presbyterian Church in Regina. The vibe was not the same; there was no weakening of the knees . Not like Saturday.

Though Richard did not like the time spent amongst the chamber players, the chorus – spectators were encouraged to sing along (hence the name of the show), and the soloists, the day was brightened by him just being there. I understand not to play this for him on our trip to Tisdale for Christmas. Granted, I do give him credit for not liking Schubert’s Ave Maria, everyone’s favourite Christmas dirge. He skips this one every time. *praise hands* 

Unfortunately, I will still be blessed with Michael W Smith’s Greatest Christmas Hits.


1 Comment

Filed under Arts and Mines, Historical Cool Stuff, Musical Fruits, Progressive Christianity

An opinion on the article: Who killed the contemporary Christian music industry?


Richard and I saw Michael W. Smith a few years ago and he was phenomenal.

I have tried to get more into Christian contemporary music, but I find the new stuff rather wishy-washy. Jesus is not a superhero. This song along is worth its own post, but I will save my energy for things that really matter.

Though I am sure He would have supper at your house, as He did with the tax collectors and prostitutes, do not expect Him to be your best bud.

My brother owned a Petra tape back in the 1980s. I did not understand the significance of the name until recently. Even I have my moments of not-getting-it-right-away. Don’t ask me which one (from what I read) they seemed to released an album every Thursday for six years.

You know what? I don’t think I got the meaning of the name after all.

I have since given up listening to Christian music. For those that know my issues with church, the new-fangled hymns just don’t have the same power as the good ol’ rockin’ hymns about how great He art, amazing His grace is, and the wee wonderful and pretty things. I say that now, but I really need to watch what version I listen to:

I do like the odd song, not necessarily the entire artist’s repertoire. Matt Redman’s “Blessed Be Your Name”

It is a good song with a true message. It is when you get this played over, and over, and … every other Sunday. This one is not played every other Sunday:

Who killed the contemporary Christian music industry? I think it is making a song into a worship song, like Matt Redman’s “Blessed Be Your Name”, may be one of the biggest reasons, as pointed out in the article. I heard that song in the worship song set at my old church. I checked the original out on EweToob. Why does almost every good Christian song have to be sung at church? Well, most people do not listen to Christian radio. With Christian radio comes the thousand-million versions of “Amazing Grace” and “How Great is Our God”.

Though we as Christians, and I speak about Christians for this brief moment, we are to uplift the downtrodden, the persecuted, the homeless, and the forgotten. I do not know of too many contemporary Christian songs that sing about the plight of the working class like the heathen creatures Manic Street Preachers with their song “Masses Against the Classes”:

Please, someone tell me there are contemporary Christian songs about pain and hardship. It cannot all be about the glory. The grace of God and His Son Jesus is the goal, but we need to play the game to get there. There is awfulness. Why can’t these happy people see that?

They say they do see that. They say they understand things do not always go well. They try to look on the bright side of life. On the other hand, I want someone in this field of study to go all Shane Claiborne-crazy and protest stuff. This maybe make a difference through song in a way no other has before.

Oh, someone has done this before; sort of.

Horatio Spafford understood trials and loss a thousand-fold. He wrote “It Is Well With My Soul” after losing his daughters in a shipwreck in 1873. This song makes me cry because out of physical loss of his daughters, his faith (along with that of his wife who survived the accident) meant everything.

Though this is not a protest song, the source came from a hurtful moment in his life. Yes, there is a positive message – his soul is at rest knowing his God is merciful and kind through hardship.

CCMers do not understand. This misunderstanding of peopleness is what killed the contemporary Christian music industry.


Filed under Musical Fruits, Progressive Christianity