I was going to a youth group retreat with two other young people. One is the young adult coordinator. The other is a “not so new believer” (less than 3 years). I was listening in on their conversation, as any INTJ would.
At one point of the trip, the topic of music came up. The youth adult coordinator stated that he didn’t like the idea that most Christian songs attempt to provoke a state of “musically induce trans” and that songs should go back to being “lyric based”. The other one stayed silent. I never said anything against it, but I was livid.
As a musician, this thought indicates to me a lack of understanding of the function of music. This is also obvious because they aren’t musicians, so they don’t understand why those “musical trances” occur. It also is a mentality that goes against everything that I believe that a musician can be and should aspire to be.
I believe that a musician can and should lead people into praise and adoration through the music that they play. Music is one of the ways that a musician praises the Lord. Music is a momentum builder for praise and adoration… and spiritual warfare. (This is why it is so difficult to praise God without music in the background.) I know that if a leader doesn’t allow a musician to praise God with musical creativity they limit the potential praise and adoration that is given to God as a whole.
I am the only regular youth musician in my church, so I experience on a daily bases what it’s like to live up to my standard of what music should be and be shown that it’s not right to deviate from the norm. I know what it’s like to play in a church culture where the function of music is to follow him or her who is singing. There have been many times where I have wanted to play to direct worship in my church, but resisted the temptation because I know that the theory in my head is never going to be successfully applied in practice (especially from the drums).
The prevalence of instrumentals in songs from bands like Hillsong, for example, are not just for show. They create momentum for praise and adoration. A musician knows this very well and look for signs of increased and decreased praise and adoration and plays accordingly. They look for signs in the lyrics and in the speech of whoever is directing the moment of praise and adjusts their style accordingly.
A musicians dream is to be directed by God to induce moments of instrumental praise. To play something and have it backed by God. To play something because that’s the sound God wants to hear at a particular time. God likes music too. That’s why there’s musicians in the church.
Music is how us musicians show our human vulnerability to God: it’s our daily sacrifice.
This that I have presented should be taken into account when evaluating “musically induce trances”; because if one doesn’t, one not only makes a crucial mistake in judgement. This has the potential effect of screwing with praise as a whole, resulting in giving God second-class praise and adoration.