I’m back in the Bull City (that means Durham, North Carolina) and spending hot summer days splashing around, getting settled in my old house, and reconnecting with old friends. Durham is sure great at the welcome wagon, and if you ever visit I hope to extend the same wagon to you.
At some point of every day, I make an intentional effort to listen to Christian music. I’m a worship leader, and I’m also a trained musician. At the risk of sounding snobby, It takes a lot for me to be very stimulated by music. It’s similar to an artist saying that there aren’t enough colors in the world to express themselves with paint, or anyone who is an expert at anything wanting next level conversations or thoughts. Sometimes, tonal music is just not enough for me, and I have to go and explore other types of music. Or I go through phases where all I can listen to is ambient music from Iceland because it’s about sound shapes more than musical form, or Cumbia because of the physical prowess of it. Or Hip Hop from the South, because I can actually feel humidity in the air and beads of sweat on my skin when I listen to it.
So back to listening to Christian music. I thought “worship music” was just one genre or category of music… until one day a friend of mine in a small group said, “_______’s worship songs remind me of country music. It’s exactly the style of country music.” Whoa, hold the phone! I thought all worship music was the same genre! But after I thought about this for a while, I thought what they said was exactly on point. Just as there are many different ways to sing about everything out there, from romantic love to a break up, there are so many ways to sing to and about God/Jesus/Holy Spirit.
I just read a book that reminded me that there are four different accounts of Jesus. Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John were four completely different people! They had different occupations, contexts, literary styles, and things that they wanted to highlight about Jesus. They each experienced Jesus differently and told about him differently. Luke, the doctor, wrote good and succinct doctor’s notes, so I imagine maybe more of a classical structure like Mozart. Mark wrote his account of Jesus during a time where Christians were being persecuted in Rome, so he would’ve written a lot of underground hip hop stuff. John, an actual disciple and a member of the inner circle, was more poetic and dramatic in his writing, so I think he would have been a spoken word or a singer/songwriter focusing on telling stories with dramatic flair. Matthew wrote his gospel account after Jerusalem had been destroyed but he was with his Christian community, so his songs would’ve been community based and all about “rising from the ashes.” I’m hoping that we find different ways of listening and experiencing stories connecting the human experience with faith and culture.
In my quest to sonically experience worship in different ways, I’ve found some really interesting places to find Christian music, and I hope to share my top picks with you via this blog in a series I’ll call “Music Mondays.” I’ll feature old/new music, worship music that spans all genres (and tips on how to tell the difference between them!), and hidden gems. I’ll probably highlight non-Christian music as well, that’s off the beaten path. Album reviews. Maybe even some cool art, too! My biggest hope is that you find more ways to experience your faith through music in new and refreshing ways.
The BEST way to get access to this list in your mailbox is to sign up to receive updates, or follow me on ALL social platforms @angiekayhong. See you on Monday!