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Home > Donn LeVie Jr.
 

Recent Reviews for Donn LeVie Jr.


It's All About HYMN: Essays on Reclaiming Sacred and Traditional Music... (Book) - 12/9/2008 1:36:51 PM
Review: It’s All About HYMN: Essays on Reclaiming Sacred and Traditional Music for Worship By Brian Metzger, Christian Worship Book Review When it comes to books on the church music controversy, It’s All About HYMN is hands-down one of the more considerate ones but a read that challenges proponents of CCM to face up to the shortcomings of that genre of music for use in worship. Each chapter is peppered with both rhetorical and thought-provoking questions that need to be addressed by those in charge of presenting music for worship and those who participate in its offering. LeVie claims not to be an academician or biblical scholar, but his writing reveals not only knowledge and application of Scripture, but well-reasoned assertions, proposals, and conclusions drawn from his research, which is well annotated at the end of each chapter. LeVie’s position is clearly stated throughout the book: he favors reclaiming sacred and traditional music for worship, as the subtitle suggests. But woven throughout most of the chapters is the subtle thread that advocates the implementation of three tests for all music being considered for worship: (1) biblical guidance, (2) spiritual discernment, and (3) generally accepted criteria for church music aesthetics. Music selections should never be based on what you like or don’t like to sing, as LeVie states in the Preface, because worship is not about you. And he makes clear that musical instruments—whether it’s a pipe organ, electric guitar, or accordion—are not a prerequisite for singing praises to God. Chapters 10 and 11 contain the meat of the book where LeVie addresses 40 hard-hitting questions about music for worship. For example, if you think jazz- or reggae-style arrangements are OK for use in worship services, think again. LeVie cites historical, social, cultural, theological, and musical reasons why neither should ever be considered for worship services. And it has nothing to do with personal preference or opinion because LeVie admits that in addition to classical, certain types of jazz are among his favorite to listen to and perform. Besides offering convincing and supported arguments, LeVie interjects questions that demand serious thought for nearly every claim, opinion, perspective that promotes the use of CCM or “Christian Pop Music” for worship services. If you want an eye-opening perspective on this hotly contested issue that gently but firmly leads you through the false presumptions, fallacies, and half-truths that often characterize the worship music debate, this is THE book that will do it.

It's All About HYMN: Essays on Reclaiming Sacred and Traditional Music... (Book) - 12/9/2008 1:23:28 PM
Review: It’s All About HYMN: Essays on Reclaiming Sacred and Traditional Music for Worship By Brian Metzger, Christian Worship Book Review When it comes to books on the church music controversy, It’s All About HYMN is hands-down one of the more considerate ones but a read that challenges proponents of CCM to face up to the shortcomings of that genre of music for use in worship. Each chapter is peppered with both rhetorical and thought-provoking questions that need to be addressed by those in charge of presenting music for worship and those who participate in its offering. LeVie claims not to be an academician or biblical scholar, but his writing reveals not only knowledge and application of Scripture, but well-reasoned assertions, proposals, and conclusions drawn from his research, which is well annotated at the end of each chapter. LeVie’s position is clearly stated throughout the book: he favors reclaiming sacred and traditional music for worship, as the subtitle suggests. But woven throughout most of the chapters is the subtle thread that advocates the implementation of three tests for all music being considered for worship: (1) biblical guidance, (2) spiritual discernment, and (3) generally accepted criteria for church music aesthetics. Music selections should never be based on what you like or don’t like to sing, as LeVie states in the Preface, because worship is not about you. And he makes clear that musical instruments—whether it’s a pipe organ, electric guitar, or accordion—are not a prerequisite for singing praises to God. Chapters 10 and 11 contain the meat of the book where LeVie addresses 40 hard-hitting questions about music for worship. For example, if you think jazz- or reggae-style arrangements are OK for use in worship services, think again. LeVie cites historical, social, cultural, theological, and musical reasons why neither should ever be considered for worship services. And it has nothing to do with personal preference or opinion because LeVie admits that in addition to classical, certain types of jazz are among his favorite to listen to and perform. Besides offering convincing and supported arguments, LeVie interjects questions that demand serious thought for nearly every claim, opinion, perspective that promotes the use of CCM or “Christian Pop Music” for worship services. If you want an eye-opening perspective on this hotly contested issue that gently but firmly leads you through the false presumptions, fallacies, and half-truths that often characterize the worship music debate, this is THE book that will do it.

It's All About HYMN: Essays on Reclaiming Sacred and Traditional Music... (Book) - 10/20/2008 6:49:40 AM
I had some initial concern that this book might be one of those emotionally charged offerings that provides little insight into the factors that influence worship music choices. But that concern dissipated after I read the back cover quotes and inside quotes from such notable church music authorities as Drs. Westermeyer, Johansson, Daw, and Music. Thumbing through the book, each of the 13 chapters is annotated with references and written in a very readable, scholastic but non-academic style (LeVie admits he’s not an academician or biblical scholar). The book has four appendixes: Appendix A: listings of sacred choral music on CD; Appendix B: pipe organ music on CD; Appendix C: Invitation to readers to be part of the follow-up book, It’s All About HYMN: Second Verse; and Appendix D: supplemental material at the book’s website and announcement of LeVie’s upcoming companion CD of classical guitar arrangements of sacred music, traditional hymns, and inspired classical music. In It’s All about HYMN: Essays on Reclaiming Sacred and Traditional Music for Worship, LeVie tackles one of the most divisive topics in the Christian church today: music style used for worship. Through the 13 chapters in this book, he presents a logical, non-confrontational, biblically balanced perspective (skillfully interlaced with hard-hitting questions) on why the use of Contemporary Christian Music (LeVie calls it “Christian Pop Music” to differentiate it from other forms of Christian music being written, recorded, and concertized today) too closely mirrors a secular “tone” in both lyrical content and musicality for use in worship services to appear more “culturally relevant” to seekers or non-Christians. He equally argues the case in each chapter for why a return to sacred, traditional church music must be reclaimed: “Sacred church music elevates and exalts; it overflows with theological truth and legacy; it places an intangible envelope—one we cannot see or feel, but sense—about that essence that transcends time and space, and it provides God’s creatures with a conduit wrapped in sonic beauty to His presence.” LeVie writes from his many years experience as a church musician in both traditional and contemporary worship environments. Of particular note are three chapters. The first, entitled “Assumptions, Fallacies, Reason, and Groupthink in the Worship Music Debate”, addresses the preconceived notions, half-truths, personal preferences, and incorrect assumptions people bring with them to the worship music debate. All too often, positions on the subject reflect personal preferences that are many times the result of the selective filtering of facts (or no facts at all), history, emotions, and Scripture, and LeVie does an admirable job of highlighting this problem and pointing to a path around it. The chapter entitled “Why Personal Preference Can Not Be An Option for Selecting Music for Worship” hones in on those ever-changing factors and intangibles that influence our personal preferences for not only worship music, but “automobiles, silverware patterns, and qualities in a potential spouse.” In this chapter, LeVie also shows how churches that use blended worship services or divided worship services (separate contemporary and traditional services) are catering too much to congregational accommodation and personal preference, or are relying heavily on a “targeted marketing” approach that creates division within the body of Christ. The chapter entitled “Finale” is a perfect summation of the theme that is woven throughout the book, which boils down to the attitudes we adopt and display as we approach the act of worship. LeVie writes that we too often approach our worship with the presumptive attitude about our redemption that minimizes or completely ignores our unworthiness as fallen creatures to come before God in worship. Yes, we are renewed creatures, but we tend to proceed immediately to the sometimes prideful realization of being in God’s grace, which can, as LeVie writes, be a barrier between us and God. The chapter on “The Influence of Church Architecture on the Worship Model” offers insight into how the architecture of interior space influences the structure of the western Christian worship model. Not to be missed is the chapter on “A Scriptural Prescription for Selecting Music for Worship” where LeVie responds to the most commonly heard justifications and rationalizations by proponents of Christian pop music/CCM for its use in worship services. The Afterword by Dr. John Hamm succinctly recaps and promotes LeVie’s premise, and suggests that the book would serve double duty as a group study guide. It’s All About HYMN is a highly recommended read for anyone involved with planning, presenting, participating and leading traditional or contemporary worship music for congregation participation. The many questions posed throughout this book serve as great checkpoints to help ensure your selections reflect biblical guidance and spiritual discernment, and possess an appropriate aesthetic for church music.

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