Wednesday, February 23, 2005

High-Culture Worship and the Absence of Jazz Liturgies

Tim Keller—pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Manhattan—asks some questions about high-culture worship, jazz music, and aesthetic preferences:

Too often, advocates for “high culture” or “pop culture” worship music try to make their advocacy a matter of theological principle, when their conviction is really more a matter of their own tastes and cultural preferences. For example, when pressed, HW [Historic Worship] advocates admit that jazz is not really a product of commercial pop culture but qualifies as a high culture medium that grew out of genuine folk roots, requires great skill and craft, and can express a fuller range of human experience than rock and pop music. . . . On their own principles, then, there is no reason for traditionalists not to allow jazz music in worship, yet I see no HW worship proponents encouraging jazz liturgies! Why not? I think they are going on their own aesthetic preferences.

Timothy J. Keller, “Reformed Worship in the Global City,” in Worship by the Book, ed. D. A. Carson (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan, 2002), p. 196 n. 7.