The Present State of Church Music: Historical and Theological Reflections

Paul Westermeyer

Article Type: Article

Publication Date: 7/1/1992

Issue: Music in the Church (Vol. 12, No 3, Summer, 1992)

Old alignments may be breaking down. We may be in a period of fundamental shifts, not unlike the time of the reformation. We certainly are fashioning an expanded musical syntax in worship, simply because families, communities, schools, and churches now have numerous ethnic, confessional, and musical memories in their midst—as well as increasingly perplexing personal and social challenges to face. This is very painful: the promise of rebirth is here, but so is the reality of death. Though old alignments maybe breaking down, enduring problems have not changed. Making sense of them is one way to sort out the confusion. H. Richard Niebuhr’s typological framework in Christ and Culture1 provides a helpful grid for the sorting.

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