That Old Time Rock and Roll and “The Old Hymns”


Chuck_Berry_1971

November 4, 2015

Most of us tend to look back

That’s easier than looking forward. Probably the reason is that we find comfort in what used to be. This is universal to humanity. We like to reminisce and wish for earlier, simpler times.

Hearing recently an “old” rock song from the 70’s on the radio as I traversed town in my transportation device, I was flabbergasted to hear the sentiments of some church folks expressed by Bob Seger.

Today’s music ain’t got the same soul
I like that old time rock and roll

(If the embedded video doesn’t work in your browser, go here.)

So here we have a song talking about “good old-fashioned rock ‘n roll”. Think about that. How long has rock ‘n roll been around? Maybe 60 or 70 years? How could anything that young be “old-fashioned”? Rock and roll started about when I was born. (Now stop with the comments about dinosaurs.)

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We find the same perspective going on when people talk about “the old-fashioned hymns”. Admittedly, here we have a broader scope of history. Hymns first came into being about 400 to 500 years ago. When they were introduced, especially by Isaac Watts, they were considered to be scandalous. Why? Because the lyrics were written by men and not God. (The lyrics were not Scripture.)

Isn’t what people really are feeling is a preference for what they heard when they were growing up, or in the case of people who became believers later in life, what they heard during those early formative years of their faith? These preferences are acceptable, and permissible. We all have them.

Let us recognize though, that these preferences have little or nothing to do with what is more spiritual or valuable, but simply are human tendencies to desire the familiar. Often it is sentimentality that drives the desire.

Consider the Jesus Music of the 70s. I wore out albums on a regular basis back then. Those were exciting times, as we saw street hippies coming to Jesus and being baptized by the hundreds off the coast of California. The Jesus Movement captured my heart and imagination, and I loved the music. I still do. You should see my stack of LP’s.

Love Song

Still One of My Favorites

We all have preferences

Let’s not take it any further than that. Should my preference be the standard? Some of you are cringing and hoping upon hope that it will never be. And it won’t, nor should it be. We need a much longer view of history. We need a much broader acceptance of what is permissible and usable for the glory of God.

Why would I expect everyone, or anyone, to enter the tiny little slice of history represented by my preference, and accept it as the supreme good?

There are other factors to consider – content and quality being of most importance. Here I am simply addressing the idea of preferences, and how we tend to baptize certain things – in this case certain songs – as having supreme value, based on little else than: I like it. There could be many other discussions about various aspects of quality of the music, the writing, the lyrics, the presentation, and so on.

To close, consider this

  • Just because the music is old does not mean that is good.
  • Just because the music is new does not mean that it is bad.
  • Just because the music is old does not mean that it is bad.
  • Just because the music is new does not mean that it is good.

Other factors have to be considered.

I think a lot of Christians could sing this old rock ‘n roll song, substituting just a few words, and make it their anthem. Albeit, a 70s “vintage” style of anthem.

Photos: Wikimedia, Bill Gracey on Flickr, One-Way.org

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