Our dear friend, Gospel Music, went to her eternal rest quietly many years ago. We pay a solemn tribute to her today for countless decades of inspiration to our souls, and to the uplifting of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Gospel Music was born in the heart of man and nurtured through the spirit, and her death was a sad surprise to many in the family of Christ. Gospel Music leaves to mourn her a few who are still of the House of David, those who are True Worshipers. As this is a memorial service there will be no viewing or official burial, and we ask that in lieu of flowers that donations be made to the remnant of Gospel Music who are still upholding the banner of Jesus Christ and his sacrifice. – Amen.
My grandmother passed away 5 years ago at the age of 92, she was blessed to live a very long life and was still lively and relatively lucid when she passed. At her services I couldn’t help but reflect on my childhood and the many times that our parents would drop us off at her house for her to “babysit”. My grandma would always have her little transistor radio playing on the windowsill in her kitchen AND in her bedroom. She always had a gospel music station playing as well, and it would drive me crazy LOL! Grandma loved to cook, and she would hum her spiritual songs while she whipped up her delicious fried chicken, string beans, corn bread and other delights! Currently when I think about my childhood and the time spent with my Grandma, I cannot recall a day that she was angry or seemed upset; she always seemed to exude a peace that came from within. I remember a song (hymn?) that she used to sing at times:
This joy that I have, the world didn’t give it to me. This joy that I haaave, the world didn’t give it to meeee. This joy that I have, the world didn’t give it to me. The world didn’t give it, the world can’t take it away.
That song used to make me laugh because 1) I was a kid, and 2) I thought she was crazy, 3) I did not understand the power, peace and love of Jesus Christ at the time. Now I do. I remember that my grandmother listened to gospel staples like Mahalia Jackson, Thomas Dorsey, The Blind Boys of Alabama and others; they would sing songs dedicated to the love of Jesus Christ and our spiritual walk. Songs that actually addressed what they should: The Gospel. I know now that my Grandma was a living testament to Colossians 3:16:
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.
In my reflection it made me wonder what exactly has happened to gospel music in the last 20 years or so. The music is almost unrecognizable as being a tribute to Christ. As a matter of fact, if some of it were not played on so-called gospel stations, we probably would not acknowledge it as gospel music at all! How come we do not currently have any Mahalias, or Blind Boys or Willie Mae Fords? There are a couple of reasons, the first being that those artists wanted to glorify and magnify the name of the Lord, and the “artists” who are performing gospel music these days are afraid to be so closely associated with Jesus Christ. So what do they do? They give Him a cursory mention in a song here and there while the rest of the song conforms to the world system. The second reason?
That’s right…recognition from the world instead of praise and worship to Jesus Christ. If in doubt, look up the biography of your favorite gospel artist and you will see more mention of the “awards” that they have won than their relationship with Jesus Christ. Our bibles tell us in Luke 6:26, Woe unto you, when all men shall speak well of you! for so did their fathers to the false prophets. When we see an artist with a wall full of the accolades of men, we can pretty much deduce they will not be glorifying God too much. From a recent blog about Mary Mary’s newest CD:
That willingness to reach out is still paying off. Having won three Grammy Awards and 2 American Music Awards, the duo’s newest release, “Something Big” has seen a strong start. The single from the album, “Walking,” has made it to the top 10 of the Urban AC Chart (Hawkins, L., 2011).
In an interview with the once trio, now duo, Trin-I-Tee 5:7 they were asked a couple of questions and I found their answers interesting:
Interviewer: In the past your lead singles have been very urban (i.e Holla & Get Away, Listen), what made you go with a more traditional sounding lead single this album?
Chanelle: We just wanted to honor our original sound, the beginnings of our group. Plus the single, made us feel good. “Over & Over” has a timeless message that is relevant to today.
Interviewer: One thing, I love you all for, is that your music and lyrics come from the heart and real life experiences. This is especially seen on your last project with, “I Need You” and “I Still Love You”. Can we expect the same on this new album?
Chanelle: Absolutely. You know it’s so easy to sing about the same thing, but we just want to be real. While being “real” and talking about “real things”, we want to lead people to God. The messages in this album are sung about in clever ways.
Angel: Example, we have one song in particular in which we talk about the criticism we endure from the industry.
Excellent! They did throw in a cursory message about God, but then they go on to tell you that His message is cleverly hidden (?) in their songs? Really?!? These are our modern day “gospel” singers. They are afraid to sing about the love of Jesus Christ, i.e. “the same thing” because they don’t want to endure the criticism of the industry. Sell outs!
And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God (Rom. 12:2).
But have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully; but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God.
But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost:
In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them (2 Cor. 4:2-4).
We can’t say that we were not warned. Kirk Franklin, the Pied Piper of gospel music, warned us back in 1997,
For those of you that think gospel music has gone to far
You think we got too radical with our message
Well, I got news for you, you ain’t heard nothin’ yet
And if you don’t know, now you know, glory, glory (Stomp, 1997).
And now he is shown in his latest video wearing pink lipstick and eye shadow!
Against my better judgment I forced myself to hold back the bile and listen to YAMS for an hour a few days ago (in July); what is YAMS you ask? Sorry, I know that she has some uber fans, but YAMS is the Yolanda Adams Morning Show. Believe me when I tell you that during the whole hour, I did not hear one song of praise or worship that stirred my spirit; I heard a couple that made me want to “throw my hands in the air” like I was at a Canton Jones concert, but not lift my hands in praise to the God who saved me, healed me, set me free and delivered me. Besides that, for a show that is supposed to represent Christ there was so much carnality in the banter, that it made me ashamed to be named among “them” as a Christian. That hour was spent with the three hosts mainly praising and glorifying each other and their feats and accomplishments, not giving praise to God who deserves it. I just can’t with these watered down, corporate-owned “gospel” stations.
Finally, it is not a huge mystery that the people of God, those supposedly saved by grace, don’t seem to possess the peace, love and joy in Christ that my Grandma had; we are inundated by worldly media on television, radio, on the Internet and especially in music that is supposed to glorify Christ. Our spirit is being deluged by messages sent by satan, and we open ourselves to them because they transform themselves into angels of light; remember, the spirit is willing but the flesh itself is weak! I am not even half as old as my Grandmother when she passed, but I have adopted her habit of singing to myself and my family in psalms and spiritual hymns, and guess what? They always make me feel better and get me into the spirit of worship and praise. That is where God wants us to be so that he can effectively use us for His ministry. Be careful friends of what you allow in, and for those of you who do prefer the flower donation, toss a white rose on the grave of gospel music because – it is finished!
A Pastor’s Wife 😉
Hawkins, L. (2011). Gospel Duo Mary Mary on Their New Album–and Singing At Nate Dogg’s Funeral. The Wall Street Journal. http://blogs.wsj.com/speakeasy/2011/03/30/gospel-duo-mary-mary-on-their-new-album-and-singing-at-nate-doggs-funeral/?mod=WSJBlog.