Red Mountain Music

Music

Like Nick, I’m a big fan of some groups out there that have been writing modern arrangements to traditional hymns.  In addition to Page CXVI, I’d like to highlight another group I have found to be very spiritually edifying and sonically pleasing.  Here’s a clip with some pretty goofy pictures (but when you’re using youtube for Christian music you pretty much have to pick between a slideshow of grainy nature photos, pictures of Jim Caviezel, or goofy.  I choose goofy) set to the Red Mountain Music song My Jesus I Love Thee.

And here’s another clip explaining the philosophy they bring to their musical endeavors.

Check out their album Depths of Mercy– one of my all time favorites.

Enjoy!

(By:Nicolas Alford)

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6 thoughts on “Red Mountain Music

  1. I think groups like Red Mountain, Page CXVI, and Indelible Grace are going a good work. I think they could do a better work if they’d not only update the music but also update some of the archaic language in the old hymns. The aim would not be to “water down” the theology but to make the theology more intelligible and, therefore, more poignant and edifying. We no longer use Bibles, preach sermons, pray public prayers, etc., in Elizabethan English. Why must we retain that practice in our public praise?

    1. Thanks for checking in, Dr. G. It’s always great to hear from you.

      Like you, I’m a supporter of the use of modern Bible translations etc, and also a supporter of modernizing the language of our confession of faith for popular use in our churches. However, I do think there is something about the poetic nature of many older hymns which could suffer from wholesale modernization of the language. Modern hymn writers like the Gettys have shown that the use of Elizabethan English is certainly not a necessary component to writing excellent, poetic, beautiful worship music for the church, but I do feel some (not all) of the old hymns would actually lose some of their lyrical poignancy by having their cadence and verbiage altered to conform to modern norms. Yes, some are downright arcane, but I’m not sure the language gap is really so far for most of the older hymns we sing.

      One of the things I love about the Indelible Grace ‘Hymn Sing’ album is the way the singer introduces the hymns with background information about the author and content. This helps bridge the language gap, so to speak, and when I hear the old language being sung I do feel a fellowship across the years with the saints who have gone before.

      I can acknowledge that part of this is simple preference (and I do love modern praise/hymns as well), but I think it may also be that much of the modernized hymns I’ve seen have simply changed all the “thou”-s and thee”-s without much concern for how it effected the underlying flow and cadence. Perhaps a more careful process would yield better results and make me a more enthusiastic convert.

      In any event, it’s good to hear from you and I look forward to seeing you in Sac-town come August.

      1. Nick, I’ll concede that updating the language on many of the traditional English hymns may potentially affect the cadence, syntax, phonetic rhyme, etc. But this raises an important question: do the Scriptures mandate that we preserve the peculiar cadence, syntax, or phonetic rhyme of 18th and 19th century hymnody?

        As I’m sure you’re aware, the style of 18th-19th century English poetry differs in various ways from the style of the poetry found in our Hebrew Bible. If we were to take an ancient Israelite, teach him English (including Elizabethan vocabulary), and introduce him to the classic English hymns or even to a versified English psalter, he’d quickly detect elements foreign to the kind of meter and style to which he had been accustomed from the Hebrew psalms.

        So if the English hymnwriters of the 18th and 19th centuries didn’t feel constrained to preserve the peculiar cadence and flow found in the Hebrew Psalms, for example, why should we, 21st century American Christians, feel constrained to preserve the peculiar cadence and flow of the 18th and 19th century hymns? Shouldn’t we rather focus our energies on preserving the truth conveyed by those great hymns using the cadence, flow, language, style, etc., of the poetry of our own culture and time?

        Granted, singing the old hymns in their original forms helps connect us to the past, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. But if the quality of intelligibility is a priority for our communication of God’s word (and it should be), then our overriding concern should be to ensure that the predominance of our hymns and songs in corporate praise are composed in the language and manner of speaking most familiar to our target audience. And since that audience is increasingly less familiar with the Queen’s English, doesn’t love constrain us to set aside our preferences for the sake of accommodating to the saints we want to edify and the sinners we want to save?

        Just some food for thought. And thanks for the opportunity to interact on this topic.

        See you in August, Lord willing

        Sent from my iPad

  2. Interestingly, I’ve found that many people (especially younger people) who do not come from a church environment or have only been exposed to very minimalist forms of Christian worship gravitate towards the language of the older hymns, especially when they are set to modern arrangements. Even most of the guys I know around me who are in more highly contextualized church environments than my own use language lifted straight from the old hymns and set it to modernized tunes- along with other modern songs as well. I think for many younger people there is a desire to be connected to some sort of meta-narrative larger than themselves and a quest for spiritual authenticity. Ironically, what many would consider “old-timey church language” meets that need. That’s my anecdotal observation anyway; whether or not this is healthy or advisable is another question altogether.

    I think we affirm all the same values and desires on this, even if there is a slight divergence in the best way to achieve that ends. You probably couldn’t slip a page from the Trinity Hymnal between our perspectives. God bless.

    1. All I know is that every time I think I’ve nailed down just how hip Alford is, he uses a really, really awesome, trendy word like “meta-narrative” and I have to shift my entire paradigm once again… I can’t keep up with you dude. You are the king of cool in my book.

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