Then Sings My Soul, Book 3
By Robert J. Morgan
I didn’t plan on liking this book. I’m a music minister in a church battered by worship wars over the years. I’ve heard all of the complaints about contemporary praise and worship and been told countless times why the “Great Hymns of the Faith” are so superior to any worship my generation could write or experience. In meeting after meeting, I’ve had my personal worship attacked and deemed shallow, loud, blasphemous, and unholy.
I was pleasantly surprised. Morgan is balanced and fair. He staunchly defends contemporary worship and does so by presenting an overview of church music history—from Biblical songs, to ancient hymns, to Medieval worship, to English hymns to gospel and contemporary songs and everything in between. This helps to remind us that, as he says, “if there’s ever a generation of Christians who don’t write its own music, Christianity is dead. Every generation needs to compose its own praises” (p. 271).
His overall perspective is that blended worship is best, something that I still question even after reading his book, partly because I see and experience the pitfalls of that every week. He argues that no generation has discarded the sacred music of the past, but I don’t see any church singing the original Psalms to David’s melodies and don’t hear a lot of Gregorian chants in the typical Baptist worship service.
While he admits that not all contemporary songs will last, only the best of the best, he then complains that the typical seminary student now only knows a dozen or so of the hymns instead of the hundreds he personally loves. To me, this seems like a contradiction of expectations.
Even though I disagree with these arguments, I still value the content and perspective in this book. The overview he gives of sacred music is helpful and informative. The stories and thoughts he shares about each of the hymns (including some contemporary worship songs) are interesting and insightful. He even includes the basic hymn arrangement of each song he writes about, an added bonus!
All in all, Morgan has done a wonderful job of collecting both the history and meaning of sacred music from each generation of worshipers.
I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.