A while back my son and I were traveling in the car listening to the â€˜oldies' station on the radio. When I was growing up this kind of music was music of the fifties and sixties. Now it is the music that I listened to as a youth. (A little troublesome to me, but that's another discussion). So, when my son is hearing these songs sometimes for the first time, I can actually remember the detailed lyrics of these songs I heard thirty years ago. Does that remind us of the power of text set to music? It is amazing how I can remember some rather ridiculous songs from my teenage years. This reminded me of the responsibility we as parents and worship pastors have to provide songs with great texts for our children and youth today.
I think it is interesting that even in the days of Martin Luther (1483-1546) there was a problem with the secular music of the day. Luther sought to give the youth of his day a Christian musical alternative. Luther encouraged the publishing of hymns and songs for the church. He wanted to get the church singing about their faith. In the preface of a Christian songbook, Luther wrote:
â€œThese songs were arranged in four parts (some are in three, others in five) to give the young – who should at any rate be trained in music and other fine arts – something to wean them away from the love ballads and carnal songs and to teach them something of value in their place, thus combining the good with the pleasing, as is proper for youthâ€¦â€(from Geystliches gesang Buchleyn).
Even in Luther's day there was a concern for the music of the younger generation and what it was teaching them. What are we doing today to encourage our youth to listen to music that has a redeeming value? If the music we learn in our childhood days stays with us throughout our lives, we as parents and music ministers should do as much as we can to give our young ones music that will help them in their walk with the Lord.
What are some things we can do to encourage them to listen to music with Christian texts?
1. Like Luther suggested, let's encourage the writing and producing of music with great Christian lyrics in a style that is attractive to the younger generation.
2. We should know what kind of music are children and teens are listening to and understand the messages these songs are sending. The old adage that â€œI just like the sound of the music and don't pay attention to the lyricsâ€ is not true. The lyrics do find a way into our hearts and minds.
3. Help our youth find music that is redeeming. If our children are listening to non-stop music on their Ipods, let's help them download some redeeming music.
4. In our churches we should be encouraging the teaching of new worship songs that speak in the language of today so that the younger generation finds a substitute for the tempting â€˜carnal' songs of today.
All of this does not mean that we should abandon the great songs and hymns of generations past. We should be teaching these songs to our children as well. However, we need to also offer them an alternative to the secular worldly music that pervades all parts of their lives. Let's give them songs that thirty years from now on the â€˜oldies' Christian station will remind them of our great Lord!