How I Found Koiné…and Realized that Contemporary Didn’t Have to Mean Bad

by grace I'm saved

(Full lyrics to this song and copyright info found here.)

I’ve really gotten sick of contemporary Christian music lately. It’s nothing personal to anyone who does love contemporary music, and there are some artists that I trust to put out good, solid messages.

However, most of the contemporary music I’ve been exposed to falls into a common problem (or at least, a problem for me): it focuses on us and our responses, feelings, and so on. Instead of having something that’s teachable or that can be related to the text in more than a tangential way, or says something meaningful about God, we have songs such like “Lord, I Lift Your Name on High”, which, while great for a camp song when you’re sitting around the fire, except for a very short chorus, it’s very us-focused.

“I love to sing your praises. I’m so glad you’re in my life. I’m so glad you came to save us.”

Or “you thought of me, above all”. That song (Above All) was really great until about that point.

Or my favorite, the songs that talk about “falling in love” with Jesus. While Christians love Jesus (or should, anyway, if you are a Christian and don’t love Jesus, you may want to talk to a pastor), he’s not our significant other. He is like our brother along the way of life (though he’s obviously much more than that), he suffered more than we could ever imagine so that we could have joy beyond our imagination, and reducing our relationship with a fully-divine, yet fully-human being to one of a romantic partner is not appropriate. Plus, I’m pretty sure that theology falls under a special kind of heresy that I tried to look up, but I wasn’t going to put off this blog post for one measly little term. Once I find it, I’ll update this post.

But even from an aesthetic standpoint, I found contemporary music hard to listen to. Some of the problem was poorly written melody lines, clearly not intended for a congregation but put in a hymnal anyway. Some of it was just a personal preference of finding the song insipid (I’ll admit it, some of these preferences are mere quirks that make me hate a song or artist for an unknown reason).

Needless to say, I had about had it with listening to any contemporary music produced since I was a preteen, minus some bands I trusted to not to get all weird on me. So when my sister suggested I listen to this new band, Koiné, I was cautiously optimistic. My sister is usually less fond of contemporary-sounding music than I am, but it’s not like she hadn’t sent me stuff before then that I considered duds.

The choir's sheet music at my sister's ideal church.
The choir’s sheet music at my sister’s ideal church (lol).

Speaking of which, I rediscovered my favorite version of “Last Christmas”, so if you all are in the mood for that sort of thing, here’s the link for a good laugh:

The more I listened, the more I was pleasantly surprised. For those of you who aren’t completely aware of Koiné, they’re a Christian band that mostly does concerts/worship music with churches who are WELS-affiliated, and most of their songs are contemporary versions of traditional hymns. So no, it’s not contemporary like many people would define it. But even their original songs, though they sound a lot more contemporary than their renditions of hymns, are based in Scripture and/or solid Lutheran theology.

But I didn’t listen to them super often, unless I was going to church and I needed music to pump me up before choir rehearsal. That is, until one day at the beginning of this year. I was bored and flipping through my music because I needed some new stuff to inspire me.

This song hit me like a ton of bricks. Like I’ve said in previous posts, I was still deeply grieving the loss of my mom, and I felt lost, alone, angry, sad… You name the bad emotion, and I was probably feeling it at some point during that first year. But despite all that pain and suffering, this song reminded me that God’s grace was going to carry me, that it carries us, no matter what the state of our hearts are.

And to be honest, reading the lyrics made me cry like a baby. As much as I am concrete-minded and not given to emotional mountaintop experiences in my faith, this was like a mountaintop experience for me. The verse I used for the first picture was one of those verses, but also this line in the last verse, “For though I know my heart’s condition,/I also know my Savior’s voice”. It describes our relationship with God while also teaching us about our theology.

While I’m still not completely on the CCM bandwagon, I’ve begun to loosen up a little in regards to what I’ll listen to. I’m more comfortable with the new than I used to be, which is good for me. It’s helped me be more understanding of church music perspectives that aren’t mine.

Because if God’s heart is wide enough to grant grace to everyone, in all circumstances, the least I can do is be gracious to and understanding of those around me, no matter the circumstance.

Peace be with you.

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