Thursday, September 10, 2009

Beatles Music Used In Adventist Worship

The music of the Beatles' I'll Follow the Sun is tamer than some of the praise music sung in my local conservative Adventist church. Believe me when I say that my congregation is conservative although I'm sure there are more conservative congregations if you go looking for them. Nevertheless, the influence that the Beatles' music has exerted, perhaps unconsciously, on the composers of a significant amount of the music heard in my church is intriguing.

I had not attended an Adventist church for almost 15 years until four and a half years ago. The music I encountered bewildered me. The instrumentation featured mild electric guitar licks or passages. Almost every song featured mild to mid-tempo drumming. In addition, chord changes and rhythms that are found in Beatles songs were in the songs I heard in church. The lyrics were very spiritual and theologically sound, but the music that accompanied those lyrics were reminiscent of pop radio of the late 60s and early 70s. I didn't at first care for these modern-sounding church songs. I preferred the songs in the hymnal. I don't know when it happened, but at some point during the past four and a half years, the Beatles-flavored praise songs started sounding pretty good to me. They were easier to recall as I lived my life than the staid church hymnal hymns I had grown up with. I was concerned.

I still sing church hymnal songs during my devotions and my quiet moments, but those moments are becoming less and less. The modern-sounding praise songs are becoming part of my daily devotional meditations.

I supposed if someone played a karaoke version of some of the Beatles less-known music and sang sacred lyrics to them, no one would even notice and some would applaud the tamer praise song they had just heard. One of the tamest songs in the Beatles catalog is I Will from the White Album aka The Beatles. Perhaps in time, if is not occurring already, songs like this one will be heard in Adventist worship with religious lyrics not sanctioned by the Beatles' estate. Since it would not be for profit, there is no way that Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, Yoko Ono or Olivia Harrison could prevent such Adventist Beatles songs from having their day in Adventist worship.

Even the music--though not necessarily the lyrics--of the Beatles can be used to draw people closer to Jesus Christ. Imagine that.
For a traditional treatise on this subject by the late Samuele Bacchiocchi, Ph. D. please see
"Christian Rock" Music In The SDA Church


Anonymous said...

Hi Raul--
"The Long and Winding Road" was the theme somg for Gem State Academy's graduating class of 1968! Beatles' music played over the gym loudspeakers at commencement--I thought I'd died and gone to heaven (pun intended?)

Dr. B's dislike of R+R is typical of his generation. Funny how the ABC carries big band versions of hymns which my 84 y/o tradventist pastor's widow mom likes... she/they conveniently forget how reviled their "wild" music was by their SDA parents' back then.

As someone who has spent decades working in the music industry (Nashville-based), I find Dr. B's dissection (he somewhat correctly describes the Xtian rock BUSINESS segment) more curmudgeonly disgruntled than scholastically factual. Xtian rock lyrics are referred to by many jaundice-eyed music biz types as "greeting card music": lame, tame, and harmless (and useless except for the $$$ generated).

Dr. B's (rest in peace) staid taste aside, I would agree with him that perhaps he should have had a bit more control of the previews for his presentation (perhaps he should have required a signed contract excluding rock music and no red M+M's in his dressing room). I wonder if he ever lectured on the history of hymns as common tavern drinking tunes. Guess it as always depends on whose ox is being gored? ;)

Raul Batista (Varonelo) said...

Thank you, anonymous, for your insightful comment. It is a pleasure to know that someone with your experience in the music business found time to read my post. God bless.