Beats and Christian Music; Where Does the Message End and the Music Begin?

I am sitting here listening to some old school gospel music. None of that new school stuff, where they reuse secular beats as their own. None of that stuff where you begin to dance to a tough track before you even hear the music. Just old school music gospel music; you know the way gospel used to be back in the eighties.

The infatuation with aggressive beats that started in the nineties where top notch producers replaced real musicians and computers replaced acoustic instruments has crossed over into the genre of gospel music. At first it was cool, because a lot of people that would only listen to worldly music are now open to listening to gospel music. While I definitely agree with the concept of expanding the horizons of Christian music and opening it up to a new audience I also know that it is easy for us to compromise the message in order to wrap it around those shiny new beats.

There was nothing wrong with Christian music to begin with. When the Jesus music craze started back in the seventies a lot of bands wanted to fuse Christian lyrics with rock music. That is understandable, and it did create a new genre of Christian music. In the eighties a few groups experimented with changing the traditional sound of gospel music to fit into their world view. To be fair, gospel music is not a pure form of music anyway and is a mash up of different genre of music to create a new sound, so it makes sense that artists would eventually seek to incorporate new sounds underneath the umbrella of what has come to be known as gospel.

At the same time gospel music has kept up with the times. There are clear differences between gospel records that were released in the seventies and eighties from those released in the fifties and sixties. The primary goal of gospel music is to spread the good news about Jesus Christ. Gospel music can also have a slow tempo, for praise and worship, and a fast temp, again, for praise and worship. The slower beats encourages people to pray, allow the Holy Spirit and take over and allow God to minister to them, the faster beats are about rejoicing, dancing, etc. But a fixation on beats can become a problem, because individuals will want to skip over all of those slow tracks and just sit back and listen to something with a more aggressive beat, and in doing so they tune out the message.

It is no different than it is with other forms of music. Popular music is there to entertain us, but there are other songs with a slower tempo that are meant to communicate a clear message. People who are always dancing are not taking the time to sit back and reflect upon the message that the artist wants to convey, and this is true with secular music as well as it is with gospel music. So instead of being infatuated with all of these beats, and partaking of various flavors of ear candy put on a slow track and allow God to talk to you for a change. We can shout and dance all we want to, but we have to listen to God …