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The Demise of Church Music

There's an article in the latest issue of Christianity Today describing the latest trend in church music: electronic dance music (EDM) with Christian lyrics. Yes, you read that correctly. EDM is no longer limited to clubs, raves, and similar settings. Now the bass can drop in your Sunday morning worship service. I guess contemporary Christian music is changing: CCM becomes EDM.

My first thought upon reading the article wasn't very charitable: If this is what we've become, maybe we deserve to die. While I realize I'm fairly young to be such a curmudgeon, I also have to draw the line somewhere. I enjoy CCM. I'd love to see more of it in our own worship services. And I love hymns just as much (including the really old ones). And chant, Taize, gospel songs, praise choruses . . . I like church music. But vocal music, particularly church music, is made by the happy marriage of tune to text, with the text having priority. After listening to some Christian EDM, I can't say I find the lyrics all that great -- and that's while trying to understand them over the constant uhn tiss uhn tiss uhn tiss uhn tiss.

A lot of good CCM is out there, beautiful and theologically-sound words set to a worshipful tune, the same as the good hymns. I guess I just find it hard to praise God with anything less. (Maybe that's my personal spiritual immaturity showing.) EDM seems . . . less.

Regardless, it's safe to say the age of the hymn is officially over. Traditional church music is in its grave. Even if EDM doesn't catch on everywhere, a new form and genre beyond our current CCM will. Music is constantly changing, and our church music should change, too, reflecting the current trends and styles while remaining worshipful. After all, even "Amazing Grace" was once the new kid on the block. But our changes must always serve the greater purpose: worship of Almighty God and the salvation of souls.

And I'm just not convinced the way to do that is the Sunday morning rave.

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