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Traditional Black hymns versus contemporary music – the debate goes on

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Posted: Thursday, February 21, 2013 11:47 am

Last week sparked a fuse among the Indianapolis Recorder Newspaper’s Facebook community when we asked, “Do Black traditional hymns still have an importance in church? Or do you prefer the new, contemporary Christian music?”

The Recorder decided to post more responses this week from concerned readers about the state of music within Black churches. Following are more comments posted on Facebook:

Betty Riding: “The traditional Black hymns definitely are relevant in the churches today. When I hear or sing those traditional songs, I picture my grandmother singing those songs, I think about my ancestors maybe working in the fields to get through the day.

“How can you listen to Mahalia Jackson and not feel the spirit in that moment? This music will always be relevant, because it represents the heart and souls of those who came before us.

“Fast forward to the contemporary music of today and yes it too is relevant. For it captures the times of today and it gets the attention of the young and young at heart. How can you listen to ‘There Is a King in You’ or ‘Go Get Your Blessings’ and not be motivated and uplifted?”

* * * * *

Debra Vance: “No hymns don’t have an importance in the church anymore, but truthfully that is our culture and roots to Christ – those old down-home songs carried our people over and had meaning. In all honesty we need to go back to the olden days. The hymns of our ancestors touched the inner depths of the soul. They had meaning and substance. The new contemporary songs are OK, they just don’t move me.”

* * * * *

Brenda Grant: “I’m from the old school. The traditional hymns had meaning, but I’m not saying that the new hymns don’t. But you could really connect with the soul and now it’s more like a dance. Just dancing in it doesn’t move me like the old hymns our parents use to sing in church. I know the Lord said dance, but some of the so-called Christians are just a little too boogie-woogie. It’s like they left the nightclub, and came to the morning club.”

* * * * *

Terry L. Franklin Sr.: “Where do these new artists get their inspiration from? Where do they get their foundation and direction? Who paved the way for them to be where they are now? The folks who sang the traditional hymns!

“Yes there may not be a lot of electronic voice enhancement, or a lot of technology in the traditional hymns, but today’s contemporary gospel/Christian music started and evolved from it. If you don’t reference the past, the future has no foundation to stand on.”

* * * * *

William Jackson: “Growing up in the old Baptist church, I used to love to hear the old traditional hymns at a young age. Before we had a ‘praise and worship’ leader and ‘praise team,’ we had devotionals led by the deacons. No guitar player, no drummer, just an organ player. He would stop playing and the women in the church stomping on the hard wood floor, would continue the beat. So much emotion and passion contained in those moments. No, I don’t feel the same way with gospel music of today.”

* * * * *

Angela M. Smith: “Many lyrics of contemporary Christian music, although moving as well, are rooted in and are also resounding from worldly incitation. Even so in what is coined gospel music. You can hardly decipher if they are singing about the Lord, or if they are singing about their lover or spouse. It’s so chaotic at times that the very hip-hop, reggae or jazz sound you hear from the adulterer or bigamist or pimp is the same sound ringing through the keys, strings, and percussions in the temple.”

Join the conversation with the Recorder at facebook.com/IndianapolisRecorder or tweet us on Twitter at @IndyRecorder.

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