Pt 2, Corporate Singing (with words from Dr. Michael Braz)

Hello Everyone,

For those who missed it, I published what I thought could be a risky blog nearly 24 hours ago. “I Thought We Were *SUPPOSED* to Sing” was perhaps one of the most ignited, passionate, engaging posts that I’ve had with the “comments” here in a long time. It was AWESOME seeing so many of you come out of “hiding” to leave your responses.

One such response came to me “off-blog” … via private email. It came from someone I respect and trust deeply. Someone who I had the privilege of studying under for four wonderful years at Georgia Southern University in Statesboro, GA. His name is Dr. Michael Braz.

Dr. Braz is an amazing and talented individual. I wanted to post some of his thoughts because they were quite stirring. Dr. Braz defines his religious views on his Facebook profile as “Reform Judaism with Buddhist sympathies”. So these thoughts don’t necessarily come from a “Protestant/Christian” point of view, but from a spiritual, professional, and musical point of view.

He was gracious enough to give me permission to publish this. I will come back and offer my thoughts with Part 3 on Thursday, and we’ll all come together for some fun on FreePlay Friday.

It’s an easy read, I’ve highlighted and inserted a few thoughts for emphasis … here we go:

Hi, Fred–

… It may surprise you to find that I keep up with your
writing/performing/opinionating, etc. (as I also do with Russ Hutto and
other GSU music alumni). The reality of our working in two quite different
worlds in no way dampens my fascination with the way you are growing in your
chosen vocation.

One of these days–I don’t know when, but I hope it’s soon–we’ll sit down
for a meal and tackle some of the common annoyances of the world. One
example might be how we condition people to be audiences, rather than
participants. Another might be how we intimidate people away from using
their singing voices (children are especially adept at teasing their
parents–especially their fathers–who try singing in church).
[Fred says, “sign me up for this class and let’s broadcast it on Mogulus]

Again, keep in mind that I am a very happy and willing stranger to the
terrain of praise bands, competing blogs (and breaches of blog etiquette),
intramural church politics, etc. On the other hand, I have just spent 9
months overseas supplementing my appreciation of spiritual traditions in a
variety of settings, especially Hindu and Buddhist. It’s somewhat ironic,
when you consider that my fascination towards comparative religions began as
a 16-year-old high school senior in Miami, stepping in at the last minute
for a pianist at a week of Baptist revivals, and that I served St. Matthew’s
Catholic Church (Statesboro) for 2 years as its first paid music director.

What I think I’m trying to say here–with limited success–is this: people
are willing to be entertained, especially by those they perceive as doing
something better than them (music, sports, acting). At the same time, they
are a result of their conditioning, which serves as a sort of straitjacket
limiting their modes of expression.

At any rate, there is much to talk about, should you ever find your way up
here. You might even bring a digital recorder–I have been known to take
requests. [note to self, Fred … this is an open invitation to get what could be the only live recording of one of the most amazing Gershwin “I’ve Got Rhythm” piano solos ever known.  I want it.]

All the best,

Michael Braz

Now there’s some words to chew on, my friends.

Comments? I’ll be back with mine on Thursday. Stay tuned.

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Fred McKinnon is a Pianist/Composer from St. Simons Island, GA. Checkout the full BIO for more information and a complete bio. Worship Interludes Podcast - This podcast features instrumentals for prayer, meditation, soaking worship, relaxation, study music, and rest. Visit the Podcast page to listen or subscribe. Follow on Social MediaFacebookYouTubeInstagramTwitter

16 comments on “Pt 2, Corporate Singing (with words from Dr. Michael Braz)

  1. Steve says:

    Great insight from Dr. Braz, and thanks for posting that. I think there’s no pat answer to the question of why some people don’t sing in church. I do think discussion, thought, teaching, and willingness to be open to the Spirit’s leading above all are certainly warranted. However, I also think we can be too obsessive and worried about it as well. Worry is God’s job. If we’re doing our part of being diligent and seeking Him – He’ll take care of the rest.

    Finally, God meets us where we are – not where some worship leader thinks we ought to be.

    Steves last blog post..Worship setlist, July 27, 2008

  2. Fred says:

    “Worry is God’s job”? Somehow, I don’t think God is worried about anything.

  3. Fred says:

    Steve, oh yeah … sorry, it’s late and I’m sleep deprived. I had to say that (above), but neglected to ALSO say “great thoughts” … I agree, we can easily get WAY too caught up in worrying about how people are “seemingly engaging”.

  4. Chris Moncus says:

    Forgive me for my last comments as harsh as they were.

    Is there a correlation between easy/old songs and harder/new songs and the amount of or passion during singing?

    Is there a correlation between songs to God and about God and the amount of or passion during singing?

    Could it be that the past few weeks at church most of the songs are about God? For instance…

    July 27 – All about God
    -All I Have
    -No Other Name
    -Jesus Paid it All
    -How Deep The Father’s Love For Us
    -Mighty To Save

    July 20 – All about God
    -Again I Say Rejoice
    -The Solid Rock
    -I Will Never Be
    -I Could Sing Of Your Love Forever

    July 13 – 2 about God. 3 to God. 2 are to and about God.
    -We Shall See The King
    -For All You’ve Done
    -Mighty To Save
    -All Who Are Thirsty
    -What A Friend We Have in Jesus
    -Here I Am To Worship
    -The Heart Of Worship

    In comparison, I “get into” songs more that are to God. They become a prayer. They remind me of the things I need to talk to God about and I sing them to Him. For some people instead of singing they are spoken in a prayer.

    On the flip side, sitting a service that is 100% fact – including music, announcements and sermon – there is no scheduled time to engage with God. I think that might have been a huge oversight on our part if what I’m asking is true?

    What do you think, Fred or others? Might we need to weight our songs toward those TO God instead of only ABOUT Him?

  5. Chris, good point – I think there needs to be a balance of “about” and “to” God songs, ideally beginning with the “about” and moving towards “to” as a way of responding. Hadn’t thought about it, however, when putting together this weeks set list. 🙁

  6. I might add this, however – if you remember my famous (rather, infamous?) “Hillsong United” post a year or so back my critique of them was that they – the night I saw them – dove right into “to God” songs and left me in the dust wanting something to respond to… I think we need to be regularly reminded of who God is and what He has done, and done for us, in order to sing those more ‘intimate’ numbers in response to that revelation.

  7. Chris Moncus says:

    Balance. That’s the word I forgot to use.

    Even the Psalms. Many were to God. Many were about God. I really like songs that lead us from “about” to “to” like Tell the World. It’s both.


    Chris Moncuss last blog post..The Design Process

  8. Steve says:

    ““Worry is God’s job”? Somehow, I don’t think God is worried about anything.”

    Oh yes, I agree, sorry I wasn’t clear – I meant that in the sense of Matt 6:25-26: “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?”

    In the same way *we* shouldn’t worry so much about what *they* do or don’t do, but trust that God is taking care of it – does that make more sense? (I think you get what I mean, depsite my lack of clarity)

    Steves last blog post..Worship setlist, July 27, 2008

  9. Steve says:

    Chris that’s a couple of great points. The general congregation may have difficulty singing songs that are easy for us musicians and singers to pull off and therefore aren’t as enthusiastically involved.

    Striking a balance with ‘to’ and ‘about’ songs is something we’ve frankly never discussed in our planning meetings – I’ll bring that up next time!

    Steves last blog post..Worship setlist, July 27, 2008

  10. dang.
    now THAT is an informative perspective on the culture of music that has permeated our churches as well. tell him thank you for us!

    mandythompsons last blog post..Sunday Setlist – 7.27.08

  11. Ryan says:

    Wow. First of all, thanks for posting this. Second – great to see some positive discussion between two way different viewpoints. His words were very interesting and something I’m definitely going to be chewing on for a long time.

    How do we “condition people to be audiences, rather than participants” in our churches? I’ll be thinking on that one for a while.

  12. Russ says:

    Dr. Braz! One of my favorite college profs of all time! What amazing insight.

    Thanks Fred for posting his thoughts and these other comments are definitely getting my brain going!

  13. yes please! Go and see him! What a treasure!

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