Praise & Worship Music — Academic Church, Part II



I started this post months ago … in November 2007 in fact; I’m not sure why I didn’t finish it. But yesterday I went to the vigil and campus memorial service for one of our undergrads Jamie Heard. Jamie’s life touched people whether you knew him or not. The song that I blasted in my car stereo on the way home was a duet by Martha Munizzi and Israel Houghton called “Wrap Me in Your Arms” on the “Change the World” CD … Track 10. The lyrics are written here, they permeate my mind:

There is a God, who loves me
Who wraps me in His arms.
That is the place, where I’m changed.
That’s where I belong.

Take me to that place Lord
To that secret place where
I can be with You
You can make me like You
Wrap me in your arms
Wrap me in your arms
Wrap me in your arms

I’m safe
I’m safe
I’m safe in Your arms.

I’ve been listening to this CD all week, but last night I really wanted and needed to hear this song. When I say that I blasted it, I mean that I was totally oblivious to anything else at the time and I really, really felt that feeling … yes, that God really was speaking through the music, and in this case, that I was safe.

I wrote the post below a while ago. I hope that it moves you to contribute … to add music, lyrics, links, etc. I pray that there will be something posted here that will help someone, maybe even something as simple yet as profound as knowing … or hearing that Jesus loves you, therefore you can go on.

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I’ve always loved music! My father was the one of the organists for our church growing up, I played piano for the Jr. Choir, one of my brothers also played for the choir and now plays for his own church as an adult. We also grew up with rap, hip hop, R&B. I remember when I used to sing all kinds of songs … the funny thing was when I eventually figured out what some of the lyrics were saying I suddenly realized that I didn’t feel good repeating those words. When I went to college I was introduced to House Music by some of my friends from Chicago and I thought “Ok, now I can party with no guilt because there are no words!” But then I remember going to a club in Chicago with some friends and I saw what people were doing to “just the music.” Now I liked to dance, in fact, my nickname used to be “undercover” because I would study but when we had a party or went out I would dance all night (and morning) … and yes, one time we did close a club in DC (and still went to the football game that morning … Howard Homecomings … goodness!) Over time I began to feel more and more uncomfortable. In the clubs there seemed to be too much … there was more than just dance. There was too much “rubbing,” “pumping,” etc. You know what I mean. At one club, after seeing people literally all over one another (and more), I just said (or God said) “Ok, that’s enough.” And that was the last time that I went to a club. I also began to really listen to music … not just the words, but the beats in the music. I began to question the intent of the writer, the composer, the person who was putting the beats together. Growing up with a little bit of knowledge of the music industry (my Dad had some albums) and talking with friends who are in the Hip Hop promotion business, or who compose beats, write songs, etc., I found out that some people are very intentional with their music. The music may specifically be created for people to party, to feel good about themselves, to express anger, etc. Some people don’t care what people use their music for as long as it’s “out there.” But some people create their music specifically to glorify God, or to bring joy, or to provide peace. I wanted to hear more of that. Now that I’m in my 30’s, I realize that I’ve seen enough to make me upset or angry, I’ve experienced enough pain, and I determined that I didn’t want ‘music’ to take me anywhere that I didn’t want to go unless it was going to be closer to God. I’ve seen people die, I’ve experienced murder and suicide (it’s no fun having to work with police to ID bodies, contact families, etc.), I’ve seen the effect of drug-ravaged lives, I’ve seen sadness, pain, anger, had people stay with me after domestic violence, etc. Am I saying that music is the cause of all of this? Not necessarily, but I do believe that the things that you hear and the intent of the words (and music) lodge in the psyche and can affect one’s actions and thought patterns.

Here are some interesting articles:
From Psychology Today: http://psychologytoday.com/articles/pto-20000901-000029.html

Here is another article about degrading sexual content in music and behavior from the American Academy of Pediatrics.
http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/cgi/content/full/118/2/e430

Now you may not agree with this, but for those of us with children, Godchildren, nieces/nephews, cousins who see them growing up SO fast, see the influences in schools, and wonder where or even how they learn certain words/phrases or are concerned about the images that they see even before they are 6 years old.

And what about music that one listens to while pregnant? There are all kinds of studies being done. Several are in the early stages and have been done with rats (as most biomedical studies are), but there are results that say that the parts of the brains (e.g the hippocampus) of the offspring are more developed when music was introduced prenatally.
Here is some background. You can agree or disagree, but it’s food for thought:
http://www3.interscience.wiley.com/cgi-bin/abstract/109741322/ABSTRACT
http://www.musica.uci.edu/mrn/V6I1W99.html#womb

Now what kind of music?

So what is my point?
a. Just to add some thought to making musical choices.
and
b. To add something to the landscape … perhaps introduce you to some music that you haven’t heard, and might like.

I am really fixed now on music that will be positive. But more than that, if music is going to stay in my head, if I’m going to be humming

Israel & New Breed

“Say So”

1) Partial version: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=szPT-QPTg-g
2) Israel & New Breed at the Hillsong Conference in Sydney, Australia.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=McmUHclV9do

“Alpha & Omega”
Israel & New Breed (in South Africa)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T5WWdA1KgYM
This is a glimpse into some pure worship.

“Friend of God”
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ty0SO7IvtXM

“We Have Overcome” (at Lakewood in Texas)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nui6mK38ppc
Truly multicultural. People of all races and all ages!
Israel singing it by himself, playing the guitar: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6dKq8JsNc9M

“I Know Who I am”
(Acoustic Version)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-8AzQzGnAYA

Chris Tomlin
“How Great is Our God”
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JpfKli_4LQ0

This version was put to images:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ud0kaWLHEd4

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As you can tell I’m a fan of Israel Houghton and New Breed Music. There’s something about the music that they create … in their last CD, Deeper Level, they fasted and prayed for weeks before recording. God obviously honored that. I saw them in person recently along with Tye Tribbett and GA and was thrilled to see some of our UMBC students there as well … in Virginia!
I started this post so that it could provide a place on the web for people to share music that inspires. So if you have a song that inspires you, that lifts you up when you are down, that speaks to you in a way that lets you know that God is really talking to you. Please share it here.

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