Yesterday, the family and I had the great privilege of attending worship at Little Rock Bible Church. I would have loved to have heard a sermon from the senior pastor, Lance Quinn. I don't know him, except through his contribution to and expansion of the book The Five Points of Calvinism: Defined, Documented, and Defended by my former pastors David Steele and Curtis Thomas. (That book has convinced many a Bible student of Calvinistic soteriology.) But instead of Pastor Quinn preaching, the sermon was given by George Lawson, the student ministries pastor. Normally, I cring at hearing a "youth leader" preach. I felt encouragement and conviction, but no cringing. Pastor Lawrence's sermon was tremendous. It was on evangelism and was thoroughly Reformed and Biblical, and it included quotes by Martyn Lloyd-Jones and R.C. Sproul.
For purposes of this blog, I want to celebrate the great music we heard and participated in. All too often, Reformed worship includes deep, but obscure hymns sung to tunes that are dirgelike and extremely hard to sing. (You would never find yourself whistling the tunes while working on your car or scanning a T.S. Eliot poem.) On the other hand, my wife and I attended a college chapel worship service recently that had music that was most unappealing. I think it is called "Praise and Worship" music, although it leads me to neither response. It was repetitive, shallow, tuneless, and pounded out with loud drums.
Claude Goudimel was a great Dutch Christian and leader in the Dutch Reformation of the long-time agos. When Abraham Kuyper was showing that Calvinists and the Dutch also produced artists in his classic Lectures on Calvinism, he cited Goudimel as an example. I am sure that Brother Goudimel produced some lively, singable tunes. They just got lost. The ones that I usually experience are hard to sing, obscure, and often leave me dragging. I call them the "Tunes of the Unknown Singer: Known But to God."
Back to yesterday's worship: I was thankful to enjoy a mix of more recent Christian music, along with older, but familiar hymns. Yes, there was contemporary Christian music in the service, including one song by that Christian hipster, James Montgomery Boice, Presbyterian theologian and pastor, who died a decade ago. His hymn was built upon a paraphrasing of Romans 8. And the Little Rock Bible Church had an orchestra, but instead of the musicians putting on a performance fit for either the "Screaming and Hollering" youth music crowd or the "Round Mouth" grey-haired concert goers, the music was fitting for a worshipful environment and fitted for enhancing the songs. Trumpets, after all, ought to be used in every "Regulative Principle" group.
All in all, I was thankful to find that what I kept thinking must exist, does exist.
R.C. Sproul 1939-2017
5 months ago