Tag Archives: folk culture

Did Luther use tunes from love songs?

Did Luther use tunes from love songs?

It is irresponsible to claim that Luther used tunes from secular loves songs for his hymns and compare it to today’s situation. If there is one argument in defense of bringing secular musical forms into the church that I’ve heard more than any other, it is certainly one that insists that Luther used tunes from… Continue Reading

Cultivated, Commercial, and Communal Music

Cultivated, Commercial, and Communal Music

This entry is part 2 of 4 in the series 19th Century American Church Music You can read more posts from the series by using the Contents in the right sidebar.

Church music in nineteenth century America can be summarized very simply with one word: reform. In many ways, the influential writers and composers of the nineteenth century were bent upon rejecting the new music of eighteenth century American composers and returning to more established classical traditions. In order to understand their motivation, however, one must consider both the changes… Continue Reading

The importance of distinguishing between folk and pop culture

The importance of distinguishing between folk and pop culture

This entry is part of 6 in the series Vaughan Williams on Culture You can read more posts from the series by using the Contents in the right sidebar.

Recognition of a difference between folk and pop music may perhaps seem inconsequential, but for a composer like Ralph Vaughan Williams the distinction was at the heart of his life’s work. For Vaughan Williams and his mentor, Cecil Sharp, the commercial nature of music often rendered it banal and vulgar — it was music created… Continue Reading

The superiority of folk culture to pop culture

The superiority of folk culture to pop culture

This entry is part of 6 in the series Vaughan Williams on Culture You can read more posts from the series by using the Contents in the right sidebar.

The motivations behind Vaughan Williams’s use of folk idioms in his music also clearly demonstrates the distinction between folk and pop music in his thinking. Clearly Vaughan Williams’s interest in folk music was connected to his desire for a distinctly English national music. Indeed, as the title of his work on folk music (National Music)… Continue Reading

Defining pop culture

Defining pop culture

This entry is part of 6 in the series Vaughan Williams on Culture You can read more posts from the series by using the Contents in the right sidebar.

Unfortunately, according to Cecil Sharp and Vaughan Williams, folk music as an art is largely dead, and this provides the first evidence of a distinction between folk and pop music in their thought. With a chain of events including the Industrial Revolution and the creation of mass media came the emergence of a new form… Continue Reading

Multiculturalism and Contextualization

Multiculturalism and Contextualization

This entry is part 9 of 16 in the series Missions and Music You can read more posts from the series by using the Contents in the right sidebar.

In a recent interview, mission leader C. Douglas McConnell was asked to name the greatest challenge facing the global evangelical missions movement today. He responded, “There is a critical need for frontier mission types to develop an ecclesiology. We are church planters but in some cases we do not understand what a church is theologically… Continue Reading

Distinguishing high culture from folk culture

Distinguishing high culture from folk culture

This entry is part of 6 in the series Vaughan Williams on Culture You can read more posts from the series by using the Contents in the right sidebar.

A primary goal of Vaughan Williams was, of course, to compose art music. His many hours finding and indexing folk tunes resulted in the use of many of those melodies in his own compositions. As such, a distinction between art and folk music in his understanding is self-evident. Cecil Sharp, however, makes this distinction more… Continue Reading

Vaughan William’s interest in English folk songs

Vaughan William’s interest in English folk songs

This entry is part of 6 in the series Vaughan Williams on Culture You can read more posts from the series by using the Contents in the right sidebar.

An interest in English folk songs emerged in England toward the end of the nineteenth century. By 1898 the Folk Song Society was founded, and rising composer Ralph Vaughan Williams joined the Society in 1904.1 The Society had been perfectly comfortable simply discussing folk music in the abstract until an influential folk tune advocate named… Continue Reading

Distinguishing High, Folk, and Pop Culture

Distinguishing High, Folk, and Pop Culture

This entry is part of 6 in the series Vaughan Williams on Culture You can read more posts from the series by using the Contents in the right sidebar.

A common error exists frequently in contemporary discussions of the use of folk idioms as a compositional element in art music. Many authors today equate folk music with popular forms such as jazz, rock, and blues. In fact, the terms “folk” and “popular” have unfortunately come to be synonymous in conventional speech. For instance, George… Continue Reading

The Enlightenment and Christian Hymnody

This entry is part 11 of 14 in the series The Hymnody of the Christian Church You can read more posts from the series by using the Contents in the right sidebar.

This far in our journey we have witnessed an almost unbroken stream of Judeo-Christian tradition. From King David to Lutheran composer Johann Crüger (1598-1662) we find a slow and steady cultivation of poetic and musical forms. There were certainly bumps in the road and many changes along the way, yet for around 1800 years the quality… Continue Reading

Reformation Hymns

This entry is part 6 of 14 in the series The Hymnody of the Christian Church You can read more posts from the series by using the Contents in the right sidebar.

When Martin Luther (1483—1546) sparked a Reformation of the Church by nailing his Ninety-Five Theses to the Church door at Wittenberg in 1517, he challenged the Roman Church’s doctrine and practice, but never its musical forms. The musical forms of the Reformation continued to follow in the Judeo-Christian tradition. The most significant change Luther made for… Continue Reading

How Christian Were the Middle Ages?

How Christian Were the Middle Ages?

Editor’s note: This article is posted partially in response to discussion of Scott Aniol’s post on medieval hymnody. I have suggested elsewhere that the civilization of the medieval West was imbued with Christian ideals, and that those ideals were abandoned after the Enlightenment. This assertion provokes several challenges in the popular mind, two of which… Continue Reading

Medieval Hymns

Medieval Hymns

This entry is part 10 of 14 in the series The Hymnody of the Christian Church You can read more posts from the series by using the Contents in the right sidebar.

When Emperor Constantine legalized Christianity in 313 with the Edict of Milan, and Christianity soon became the religion of the entire empire, the cultural conditions within which the Church thrived changed into a situation that had not been enjoyed since before the Hebrew exile. Soon the Church gained prominence over all aspects of politics and… Continue Reading

The Watts Controversy

On the wall in my study I have three portraits. All three are portraits of theologians who were also heavily involved with music. They are Martin Luther, J.S. Bach, and Isaac Watts. All three men fought their battles in defense of high standards for worship music. All three had their share of controversy. And all… Continue Reading

A potential danger in writing hymns in an age of mass media

There seem to be a lot of hymns being written today, and a lot of them are really pretty good. One of the reasons for that seems to be that pastors are beginning again to write hymn texts instead of just musicians or publishers. There is one relevant potential pitfall into which hymn writers today could easily… Continue Reading

Contents of Worship in Song by Scott Aniol

Contents of Worship in Song by Scott Aniol

Pre-order for 30% off | Book Website SECTION ONE: LAYING THE FOUNDATION Chapter One: Biblical Authority in Matters of Faith and Practice Many Christians insist that because the Bible says nothing explicitly regarding the kind of music that pleases God, God must not care what we listen to. This chapter dispels that idea by demonstrating… Continue Reading

When Cultures Collide

When Cultures Collide

I’ve taken pains on this site to explain the differences between high culture, folk culture, and pop culture. Last night my wife and I witnessed a very enlightening collision of all three types of culture. Some friends of ours invited us to join them for an evening at the Rockford Symphony (incidentally, we had front… Continue Reading