Joe Ed Furr, Texas Normal Singing School
We do the best we can in our environment, and most of our brethren are to be complimented for this virtuous action. Let us explain.
Primitive, impoverished nations offer most citizens very little leisure time. In those nations people must work more than 100 hours per week just to make a living. When you add hours for sleeping, most people have almost no leisure time at all. Music is a luxury that is desirable in affluent cultures where people have the leisure to learn music and to compose it and sing it for the glory of God.
So, poor nations have only a few primitive songs to celebrate their faith. The book of Psalms had only 150 songs. Your hymnal contains more than 800 hymns. Our repertory is much greater than the repertory of our forefathers.
Modern electronic tools makes it possible for music organizations to record new songs on CD’s and sell them to us. If we do not know how to read music we can just listen to the CD’s and quickly learn to sing new songs. I notice every year at the Tulsa Soul-Winning Workshop that our people have new songs to sing.
Our ancestors did the best they could with what they had. Six times, in the book of Psalms, David praised the wonder of new songs (Psa. 40:3, 98:1, etc.). Solomon composed more than 1,000 psalms (1 Kings 4:32), but only two of those songs became a permanent part of Israel’s songs (Psa. 72 & 127).
Modern music was not created until 1000 AD. The oldest Christian song that is still found in our hymnals was written in 1150 AD (Jesus, Thou Joy of Loving Hearts). There are only five songs in our hymnal writer between 1150 and 1300 AD.
8% of our songs were written in the 18th century, 35% were written in the 19th century, and 55% were written in the 20th century. Considering the fact that the church has existed for nearly 2,000 years, almost all our church songs are contemporary songs.