This will probably not be the type of praise Mr. MacDonald wants, but it's worth noting that his teaching on music is something of a "Rosetta Stone" in deciphering the problems with modern music. Let's go back to what Challies notes; that MacDonald notes that music ought to be addressed to God, not about God, that it ought to be simple and repetitive, and that it ought to be emotionally driven--and finally express itself physically.
Now, let's apply this to the text of Psalm 1. Does God follow the formula MacDonald prescribes?
Answer; not by a long shot. Psalm 1 is about the relationship of man to God and does not use the 1st or 2nd person at all. Like many Psalms, it's all in the third person. Moreover, its six verses are similar in complexity to the hymns so disdained by MacDonald, and there is no repetition at all. In fact, apart from refrains, few if any of the Psalms utilize much repetition. Finally, the Psalm--like most Psalms--is not emotionally driven. The emotion--comfort, gratitude, etc..--is supposed to flow from the circumstances and acts of God described in the Psalm. And an incitation to movement? Not at all. If we are blessed, that invites repose.
Now an interesting fact is that, whether influenced by MacDonald or not, or possibly vice versa, most modern church music, including a great portion of revivalist camp songs, more or less follows MacDonald's model. Simple, emotive, repetitive, and a tremendous use of the 1st and 2nd person, and an outright invitation to move.
And so it would seem that, whatever God intended by His example in Psalms, most modern Christian composers are missing it. And if that lesson is important, we're quite a bit poorer for it.
Now since God does not give specific commands in music, there is presumably some wiggle room here, but going forward, I'm going to attempt some thoughts on what is truly important in music to be used in the church.
The patterns are here. I am not a prophet. - I am not a shepherd or a dresser of sycamore trees. I am an academic psychiatrist, sitting in an airport lounge. Sweet life, you say. But over the last two...
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