White People Trying to Clap

A big thank you to everyone who participated in the Tell-Me  poll

What Bothers You About Church Music?

 Here are the results (some logical; some hilarious)

  •  50% of folks feel the music is too loud.(No it’s not okay to arrive early and unplug the speakers as a solution.)
  • 40% are tired of singing all the verses.(C’mon, c’mon…let’s get to the sermon and get out of here.)

And then there were the Other answers

  • Coyote singing

One person felt it was a sin for her husband to open his mouth because he sang so

Let ‘er rip, Granny.

off-key.  Ohhhh….I understand that one. You know how a coyote in pain yowls?  I’m sorry to say that’s just how my granny warbled.  One note covered 6 scales and she belted it out with a gusto that made little kids climb under the pews. She put her whole heart into: “Make a joyful noise.”

  • Morgue Music

Another person couldn’t stand music that sounded like there was a half inch of space between the notes. Tooooo slooooow. And it was even worse if funky instruments were added. “Did you ever shake a maraca to music slower than sunrise?
(Uh…no…maybe shaking the maraca harder will wake a few folks up?)

The comment that made me laugh out loud was:

What Bothers You About Church Music?

  • White people, trying to clap.

    The rhythm seems a little stiff to me.

I’m guessing this commenter visited a Lutheran church. And I ask that you give me a chance to explain.

I’ll admit many Lutherans are clapping-challenged.  It began long ago as little kids when we stood bored and stiff-legged in church and decided to pinch a sibling for entertainment. Even though a “pincher” could expect a swat…it was great fun.  If you did it several times, you’d even get hauled out of church, thus missing that guy yammering up front and the woman who coyote- yodeled during hymns.

So from the get-go, we were told to keep our hands to ourselves.  Fingers clenched firmly at our sides or glued to a hymnbook were the only two accepted positions.  Even if you were very old, blind in one eye and couldn’t see out of the other, you held a hymn book and pretended to sing along. Our hands never had a chance to join the tempo. All those Sunday School hand motions to “Zaccheaus was a wee, little man” didn’t help. We’re not practiced at clapping.

I’m guessing the ability to follow the rhythm ebbs and flows along cultural lines. I attended PowWows with a friend who is Cherokee. She’d spend hours, trying to teach me the Friendship Dance. It’ a simple side-step move, traveling in a circle. My problem is…without warning—the drums stop, leaving me shuffling a step or two in silence. In some mystical way, everyone else knew beforehand the drumbeat is going to stop. My friend would squint and shake her head. “Can’t you hear that slight change in cadence?”

Nope. I”m deaf from trying to learn to clap.

But the best comment came from Merril at Snowbird Press. I’m sharing her name because she also put her lovely thoughts in the comment section for all to see.
She said:

“Our church’s organ went the way of all things, and our organist is now in a nursing home. We were left with either using recorded music or no music at all. That’s when The Spirit moves. Today we have a wonderful guitar choir that was formed by a few of our members. The music brings us together joyfully… can you ask for more?”

No. You can’t ask for more.
That kind of puts it in perspective, doesn’t it?
Sometimes it takes having only a little to appreciate a lot.

Clapping Photo: Captain Kobold

9 thoughts on “White People Trying to Clap

  1. This is Beyond Hilarious–I’m SO glad I stopped by to catch it! I hardly know what to remark on, but I LOVE the “clapping-challenged” explanation! Gosh, this was good, gals!! God bless you abundantly–and quietly, if you prefer. love, sis Caddo Delight

  2. I also think that many of the tunes could have the beat increased. I do not like the slow, dirge-like tunes. I want the spirit to move me, and the music as well.

  3. I’ve walked the path from “don’t you MOVE til the last Amen” through some foot-pattin’ Revival hymns with rhythms which stuck long after the repentants had backslid clear into the pond, to the addition of instruments and drums and on the whole way to full-blown shoutin’ and swayin.”
    (Never let it be said that a Baptist from THAT church ever daintzed, even in a Spirit-led frenzy).

    And now, with our move to the Heartland, there are almost always TWO services—the early one, with the old remembered rhythms of “What a fellowship; what a joy divine . . .” through “Some glad morning . . .”, and a later service, with a big back-screen of Biblical and inspirational pictures cast behind words of praise, heartfelt praise and joy, which I can never catch the cadence or tune of, and am left weakly floundering, awaiting the next set of words to be put up, like a nervous political speaker..

    (And not-too-much OT: Why do ALLLL audiences—not just church—clap off-beat? Statistically, SOME of them should get it right, but none ever do).

    • You state this so well. I wasn’t aware that it’s so common to have the early “Classic” service and the later “Contemporary” service. I love the image of “a nervous political speaker waiting for the next words.” I always feel a bit strange staring at the screen, hoping I can do a squinty focus before the screen changes again.

  4. And sometimes the little thing which I would most appreciate is silence. Not only in the churches I don’t attend but in the world more generally.
    Stop and appreciate what is around you, without the need for a sound track to be dubbed in.

    • I’m wondering if the world was always so uncomfortable with silence, or has it simply happened since the Industrial Revolution? You’re so right. I don’t think we really even “hear ourselves think” without silence.

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