As a musician myself, I love good worship music. I can pray and worship to anything from Hillsong to hymns to good hand-clappin’ Gospel. Recently, I discovered Gregorian chant. It is not that I had not known about chant before—I had once heard it in fifth or sixth grade in a video on music and sound—but I had never paid attention to it.
Chant is or has been quite popular, although maybe less so in the United States. The German New Age group Enigma had sampled chant in songs like “Sadeness” and “Mea Culpa.” In 1994, the Benedictine Monks of Santo Domingo de Silos peaked at #3 on the Billboard 200 with their album Chant (here). Their Chant Noel and Chant II also peaked at #78 and #172, respectively (here), although these standings were relatively short lived.
Chant is one of the reasons I have had an interest in Latin. I also appreciate the beauty of the chanted melodies, but more importantly I love that these are prayers in addition to being worship music. The church I attend has a Sunday Mass in Latin, and also does also in Latin a monthly Missa Cantata (Sung Mass) according to the Dominican Rite. Perhaps this is just me and the way I am more introspective, but in the midst of the soothing sung prayers I find myself praying along, the melodies arising to God, and I end up drawing closer to Him.
For those not familiar with Gregorian chant, here is a short video on Gregorian chant, the Cistercian Monks of Stift Heiligenkreuz, and the making of their CD.
What music do you find helpful in drawing you into worship and relationship with the holy God of the universe?
I tend to be like you. I can listen to Hillsong United one moment and Gregorian Chant the next. Sometimes it is the beat (like any music) and sometimes the lyrics. With chant it is never the lyrics, because I don’t understand Latin, but I think the tune carries a “sanctified” significance so it feels holy even if I don’t know why!
Maybe off topic, but when I think of Latin chants, I think of the Monty Python monks in the Holy Grail; smacking their faces with their Bibles in between what’s being recited. I don’t think this would be a very popular style, though, haha.
@Brian: Yes, I agree with you about the feel of chant. I think another part of it is the prayer aspect of chant.
@Jeremy: I am out of touch when it comes to Monty Python (when I finish school completely I’m going to make it a point to get back in the groove of things :-)). I’ll have to look up that video. From what I’ve seen of Monty Python clips, they were great!
I like soundtracks (currently “The Social Network,” (Trent Reznor), Shawshank, The Mission, Out of Africa, Glory. Also, cool California jazz (Chet Baker (sans vocals), Miles, Art Farmer), long Pink Floyd instruments (Wish You Were Here), Rene Fleming (Four Last Songs), or William Ackerman (slow, soft, New Age-ish guitar).
@Jeremy: Monty Python, ha!
@Ken: I’d add U2, Mumford and Sons, Lupe Fiasco, Kings of Leon, The Civil Wars….
@Ken and @Brian: I’m glad you have mentioned this. One can certainly connect with God through non-church music. I have had many God moments as I listened to some popular music over the loudspeakers at the mall.
Sometimes more than through churchy music!
The Reign of Kindo for me…just amazing.
@Brian: I second Lupe Fiasco. This would appear strange to people considering Lupe is Muslim, but I have had many “God moments” over the years while listening to Lupe. This would be hotly contested by some, and I am sure you’re aware of that as much as I am. 🙂
@Ryan: If they contest our God-moments while listening to Lupe Fiasco, well, they can…. 🙂
Another strange group I’ve had some God-moments while listening to is The Builders and The Butchers from Portland….if you’re familiar with them, you’ll understand why this is strange.
I live in PDX, but I’ve never heard of them!
@Brian: You should be ashamed of yourself! They are a little different, but they are easily one of my favorite bands.
Trust me, there a lot of bands I don’t know!
@Brian: You’re living in a music hub! This is partially one of the reasons I’m excited to move to Portland in June, so I can start seeing some of the local music like The Builders and the Butchers.
Honestly, I am not a music connoisseur, which makes Portland so-so for me. I don’t mind good music, but I don’t go seeking it either.
@Brian: Understandable. I used to be heavily involved in music so many of the bands I am familiar with from Portland are ones I discovered some time ago. I am sure you are in the same boat as I am insofar as not having time to seek new bands out. With studies and a family, I rarely have time to discover new bands…but I will make time to see The Builders.
I have to comment on this post, because I’m a Christian singer-songwriter–I’ve been a musician of some sort all my life–and have struggled for many years with what it means for music to be worshipful. I think all the above comments (and the post) speak volumes by mentioning music of all types and styles, sacred and secular alike.
Personally, I LOATHE most songs in the CCM genre, as heard on big Christian radio stations. (I think it’s mostly my problem for being a music snob, but I’m sure there are others who are with me.) For me music is worshipful when it blends musical artistry (i.e really well-composed music) with a sort of soulfulness. I find CCM to be devoid of both.
Right now I’m really enjoying listening to Derek Webb’s (instrumental!) album Feedback, which is based on the Lord’s Prayer. Great musicianship, great heart. And can I get an “amen” for Sufjan Stevens?
A notable outlier on my radar is the dated-but-wonderful Keith Green, and another might be the plainchant that got this post going; sometimes I listen to a plainchant station I created on Pandora Radio for morning silence/prayer/lectio divina.
I have greatly enjoyed what I heard of Webb in the past, though it has been probably six years since I listened to him and yes, Keith Green, he is the man.
Comments are closed.