A couple of weeks ago we learned a new praise chorus in church. Written by Chris Tomlin, it is a simple, melodic song that, as we sang it in worship to God, reached a crescendo that touched my soul. I hummed it (off-tune, of course) all the way home. When I walked in the door, I immediately sat down and looked it up in Amazonâ€™s MP3 Store. Sure enough, the song was entitled Praise the Father, Praise the Son, and was downloadable instantly for $0.99. I bought it on the spot, and was listening to it 60 seconds later. It turned out to be much better than my tuneless humming.
All this was done even before I had lunch, which just goes to show that there are more important things than Sunday lunch.
Rachel’s good friends joined us for church on Sunday.
When I was a surly young teenager, there werenâ€™t very many voices in the Contemporary Christian Music scene. There were the Praise Maranatha Singers, Amy Grant, Keith Green, DeGarmo and Key, Petra, and somewhat later, that Johnny-come-lately, Michael W. Smith.
My parents had some deep misgivings about the godliness of this so-called â€˜Christianâ€™ rock music, and so I had to listen on headphones, or deep in the bowels of my basement bedroom. I remember feeling vaguely resentful about that, and using their seemingly-unreasonable stance against contemporary Christian music to justify (in my own mind, at least) my rebelliousness in listening to secular rock on the sly. (As is the case with many teenagers, I exercised no monopoly on logic.)
Now I have a teenager of my own, and two younger ones who seem to think they are teenagers. As a Christian parent, I am determined to encourage my children in godliness, and not to allow Satan a foothold in the area of music. For this reason, I permit, and even encourage my kids to develop their own tastes in the area of music styles, but I insist that they listen to music that has godly lyrics and is performed by people who love and follow Jesus. I donâ€™t see any benefit that secular music would provide to my children, and so far nobody has argued that point with me.
Sarah doesn’t want to argue with her daddy, no sir!
In the old days, we would sign up for some CD-of-the-month club (like Sound and Spirit) and buy whole albums featuring our favorite artists. Or maybe we would go to a Christian book store and listen to some of their demo albums. Either way, weâ€™d end up buying a whole CD. Then we would cull through those songs and find the one or two songs on the CD that we could stand, and add them to our playlist on the computer.
In this modern age of wonder, we can listen to each song in advance and we buy only the ones we like, at a competitive price, albeit in digital form.
For Kathyâ€™s birthday, I made a list of all the songs I had heard recently, that I actually liked. (Kathy and I have similar, but not entirely congruent, tastes in music â€“ but, hey, if I liked â€˜em, she probably would, too. Either way, there would be music around that I like.)
I listened to our local Christian radio station for days, making notes every time I heard them play a good song. I searched the web for new songs by artists we have enjoyed in the past, and spent hours listening to their albums. Eventually, I had a list of 25 songs or so, and I spent an hour one evening buying them all. I loaded them on a flash drive, and wrapped it up for her so she could have something tangible to unwrap.
Amazon makes it really easy for you â€“ once youâ€™ve installed the download manager plug-in for your browser, you simply click to buy, and the song appears magically in the â€œRecently Addedâ€ section of Windowsâ€™ Media Player.
Now, when I want to reward one of my children, I buy them a song on Amazon. â€œHave a song on me,â€ I tell the fortunate child. They usually spend half an hour or so browsing around until they find a song they like. Then we download it onto my computer, and copy it to the laptop or the kitchen computer so we can play it from anywhere. If any of the kids really like it, theyâ€™ll put it on their mp3 player.
Which one of these kids is gonna grow up to be a rock star?
It hasnâ€™t always been peaches and cream. The kids donâ€™t all have the same tastes in music, and deciding whose playlist we listen to in the kitchen or family room has been the cause of some considerable strife in our family.
Ask me about the Strategic Music Compromise we have, dated and signed, on our bulletin board.
Still, I think when all is said and done, weâ€™ll continue to glorify God in the music we play in our home, and (I hope) my children will not be tempted into rebellion in the area of music.