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Author Topic: Music In Rituals  (Read 13352 times)
Jenett
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« Reply #30: June 29, 2008, 06:30:05 pm »

I give it a thumbs up/thumbs down -- many traditional Christian hymns use older tunes and often the lyrics are interchangeable over the tunes. Those tunes also appear as drinking songs, folk songs, political songs, etc. So I see no issue with the practice of taking a tune and writing new lyrics IN AND OF ITSELF.

For me, it's a yes and no. I don't have issues for tunes where the common association is secular (for example, Koi, you may have heard a song called "Canticle of the Turning" which is a Catholic word setting for the traditional tune "Star of the County Down". One of my favorites when I was still doing Catholic music ministry.)

On the other hand, for a lot of people who grew up in Christianity, hearing particular tunes will bounce them back to that point - many Christmas carols, for example, or common Easter songs, or whatever.

Ritually, I a) don't want to do that to people (and I am never going to be sure exactly which tunes people might have those associations with) and b) I feel strongly that it's good for the Pagan community to develop our own original music, compositions, and other arts used in ritual, so in any circle I am responsible for, I'd much rather select from original compositions for that reason.

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However, if the tune is copyrighted, that's a little squicky. Using it among a handful of people is not really a big deal, but it makes me a little uncomfortable.

In this case, it was a recently written (like in the last 10-15 years or so) Christian song - so yes, in copyright. (I'm blanking on what they were now: us finding out about it and instituting new music was about 3 years ago, and I appear to have thankfully blanked the originals from my brain in the process of coming up with new original music.)

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Secondly, just changing the names in a Christian song to make it Pagan seems to me at least a little disrespectful, even if I can't articulate why very well -- both to the religion you're taking it from, and the religion you're porting it into. And since religious songs typically express theology, it strikes me that the theology can't have matched right.

They weren't *hugely* bad matches (since they were both 'praise the name' type songs - but yeah, there was some weirdness about the fit.

Frankly, also, they were tainted by someone lying about a major ritual component. I personally would still not have been happy about someone doing this even if they were honest (not for the songs sung as part of deity invitations, certainly!) but the fact he lied about them - and the fact that we may seriously have confused or put off other people familiar with evangelical music unknowingly - really really bugs me.

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I mean, when Whoopie Goldberg takes pop tunes and makes them religious songs by word substitution in "Sister Act," it's played for humor value. It seems to me a sort-of flippant thing to do that could be amusing, but probably not real reverent.

Yep. There's a *huge* difference for me between someone doing it inside of ritual or outside. For example, there's various Paganisations of Christmas carols out there (some of which you don't have to go very far to do) and those mostly do not bug me, if they're done as a post-ritual thing. I certainly won't storm out or something.

But I'm very uncomfortable including them in ritual. I felt the same way about Goldberg's music (and so did our Newman choir: we tried one of the movie arrangements back when, and afterwards, we all went "Y'know? Not quite right, somehow" and didn't do it again.)
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« Reply #31: June 29, 2008, 07:21:35 pm »

You reminded me of another category of music I've noticed - music from another religion and for another god that reminds me of my relationship with Those I honor, or some of how I experience the Divine.  The songs that come to mind first are "Calling Out Your Name" by Rich Mullins and "You Move Me" by Susan Ashton.

I've always felt that Rich Mullins, especially, is the kind of artist who, despite his extremely strong faith, writes music that can speak to anyone.  It speaks well of him that, despite how popular his music became in the Christian community, he was always a very humble man.  I have a feeling that's why his music is able to speak across boundaries of faith...he never wrote from the supposition that his faith made him superior to anyone else, and even up until his death, he approached his faith with a near-childlike wonder and fascination (which also helps make his music accessible outside his faith, I think, because the emotions behind the music are sincere, and they are the kinds of emotions that most people would like to have toward their gods).  I know several Christians like this, and they're the ones with whom I still have friendships.
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