Joy

Last month we went through a heavy topic.  We were glad that there were so many songs that deal deeply and honestly with struggle, but we feel like it’s time to switch directions and go to the other end of the emotional spectrum, in a way. This month we’re going to discuss joy. Sounds like fun, right?  Let’s begin.

To define joy, we want to start with what it isn’t. Too often it gets tangled up in other feel-good emotions. Joy is not happiness. Joy is not a reaction to an event. Joy is not an emotion we feel when good things happen to us. In fact, sometimes joy is experienced in spite of hardship. In Acts 16:25, Paul and Silas exemplify this. The passage begins with Paul and Silas singing to the Lord and praying while in jail. They had decided to continue rejoicing while behind bars, because they knew that God was with them.

Rather than purely a reaction to pleasure, joy is a conscious decision. It’s a state of being, a response to what God has done and is doing. James 1:2-3 says, “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.” James is showing his audience that they can (and should) have joy in any circumstance, and that their joy is an intentional decision.  He wants them to be joyful as a lifestyle. Feel-good emotions are too fickle to live up to those expectations.

Music

Music is evocative. Through music we can experience emotion as the artist intended. Through music we can worship alongside other believers, in fellowship and praise. We’ve said it before and will say it again: music can be a very powerful experience.  Joy can be a powerful experience too, as we have been describing already.

Despite this, artists today do not seem to be writing about joy as much as we would have expected.  Unlike last month, we had a fairly difficult time filling an hour of on-topic music. It was easy enough to find songs that brought us joy, but finding songs that were based on joy was rough.  Some bands that we love did not have a single joyful song to be found. Not to say that we couldn’t find happy songs, but music that was about joy was much harder to find.  Phillipians 4:4 says, “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!”  While it’s understandable to tackle dark and upsetting topics, joyful ones shouldn’t be neglected. Especially difficult to find were songs that dealt with God as the root of joy.

This trend isn’t universal in all Christian music, though.  In our playlist, there are many hymns that deal thoroughly and effectively with joy.  Hymn-writers seemed perfectly capable of making interesting and worthwhile songs about joy; contemporary artists are the ones who seem to be having trouble with it.  We here at The Tavern Hymnal are not looking to make deep social commentary on the CCM theological climate and how that affects lyrical content, but we would like to see more bands stepping up to the plate and writing songs about joy

Some of the songs we included in this month’s playlist did not fit our theme as well as we would have liked. Some songs (like Four Chords by The Classic Crime) contained joy and happiness, but focused on emotion instead of the cause. This isn’t a bad thing; it’s important to have songs about happiness too, but it was a little disheartening when we realized how few songs we knew of spoke about the Lord as the source of all joy.

To be completely honest, we don’t feel like our playlist tells the complete story about joy. Maybe it’s a good reflection of the christian music scene, but maybe it’s because we only listen to depressing bands at TTH. It’s possible that we aren’t aware of some great joyful music that’s out there. To that extent, what music do you believe fits this theme? Whether that’s music you listen to while feeling joyful, or songs that you believe fulfill the ideal of joy-based music flowing from God’s presence, we would love to hear from our readers. Do you think that joy should be the focus of more songs, or are stylistically joyful songs enough?

~TTH

Youtube Playlist

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An Apology And An Appeasement

It’s the third Sunday of the month, which means it’s time for another playlist/blog post (we have our best scientists working on a snappy term for that)! Unfortunately, that didn’t happen this week; we had a computer causing trouble and the end of a semester to deal with, and found ourselves without enough time to pull everything together. We decided to postpone the post for a week.  Our apologies!

As a peace offering of sorts, we have two new things for you:

1) Our blog posts now have Youtube playlists. Several people mentioned that they didn’t have Spotify accounts, so we wanted to provide other options. They will be in all of our future posts, and have been added to the older ones.

2) The first installment of “What We’re Listening To”! This will be a place for us to let you know what we’ve been spinning lately; it won’t focus specifically on Christian music or a theme. It won’t be a regular occurrence, but be on the lookout, because you never know when it will show up. Neither do we, so it’ll be a surprise! Don’t worry, though: we won’t wait too long, because pseudonyms are fun.

Ninny McGee

  • “Gospel Hymns, Vol 1.” – Attalus
  • “The Knock-Down Drag-Outs” – House of Heroes
  • “One Wing” – The Chariot

Rumpy Snizzlewerts

  • “Good Monsters” – Jars of Clay
  • “Fall and Winter” – Jon Foreman
  • “Nothing Is Sound” – Switchfoot

Lollynoggins

  • “Random Access Memories” – Daft Punk
  • “Odd Soul” – MuteMath
  • “Demon Days” – Gorillaz

Albums We’ve All Been Listening To

  • “El Camino” – The Black Keys
  • “Vessel” – Twenty One Pilots
  • “Supermegafantastic” – IAMDYNAMITE

Finally, to give you a little hint about this month’s theme, it will be on the opposite side of the emotional spectrum as last month’s.

Thanks for tuning in, and we’ll see you next week!

~TTH

Struggle

This month’s focus is an idea we like to call “the struggle”.  This is a fairly heavy topic to start out with as our first post after the introduction, but we feel that it is very important and relevant.  Before we start discussing, though, we need to talk about what struggle is.  In this post, we use struggle to mean any obstacle in your life that you find difficult to overcome, or a battle between your morals and desires that you find difficult to win.

 

Everyone goes through struggles. Life won’t always be easy. In fact, sometimes it’s incredibly difficult. We might go through financial hardship, troubles with relationships, succumb to temptations, or feel the weight of depression.  Some people may have more difficult times than others, but everyone gets to a point where they break down and hit the floor.  This struggle can be very frustrating and disheartening, and can have lasting consequences if ignored.

 

Struggle is not completely negative though. Difficult times are never fun, and can leave us in pain, but we tend to learn the most when we’re at our lowest.  Often it takes pain to break us down, to make us humble and motivated, and more likely to reach out for support.  More often than not, we make noticeable advancements in maturity and reliance on God when times are tough.  Paul writes about this in 2 Corinthians 12:9.  He asked God three times to remove a thorn in his flesh, however God had something else in mind: “But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”

What about music?

We feel that Christian radio should play music that speaks to people who are struggling.  Bands like Tenth Avenue North and Sanctus Real do a good job of speaking out honestly about problems, but unfortunately these examples seem to be few and far between. In our experience, most Christian music tends to sugar-coat hardships in life, if not ignoring them altogether. There are plenty of songs that talk about how how messed up our lives can be before we follow God, but not as many deal with the reality of struggle in our current situations. Life with Christ is not the life of ease. We need music that reflects our reality.

 

In addition, we feel like both of those bands fit into a narrow spectrum, and we wanted to add variety both musically and lyrically.  Thankfully topics like pain and struggle are great inspirations for songs, and we found many that speak directly to our topic in a variety of ways. Some were written from the perspective of somebody currently dealing with struggle. Some talk about the aftermath. Others are a simple reassurance that you aren’t the only one with these problems. A lot of artists talk about trial and difficulties. We actually had a tough time cutting our playlist down to an hour this week!

 

If any of you are dealing with a difficult struggle right now, we hope that these songs help somehow.  Maybe they’ll be able to give you a new perspective on your situation and give you hope for the future.  Maybe they’ll feel emotions for you so you won’t have to for an hour.  Mostly, though, we hope these songs speak biblical truth to you and point you to God in this time that you need Him most.  You’re not alone.

 

If you want to share a song that’s helped you in your life, or a band that speaks directly to where you’re at, we’d love to hear from you. And if you just need a sounding board to get your thoughts out, we’re here for you. Comments, prayers, music suggestions; they’re all welcome.

 

We’re praying for you all.

-TTH

Youtube Playlist


(Just a note, the song Cutting the Ties by August Burns Red is a metal song. It also has extremely powerful lyrics. We know most people can’t understand screamed lyrics without the lyrics in front of them, especially if they aren’t used to the genre, so we’d like to provide them for you. And if you cannot listen to any heavy music, we understand. It’s a musical style that we enjoy and that speaks to a large section of society, so we don’t want to ignore it, but we understand that it is can be abrasive to those who aren’t used to it. We will note any songs of similar genres in future posts as well. We hope you’ll give the style a chance, but we don’t want to surprise anybody with a sudden shock either.)

An Introduction

The Power of Music

Music is powerful. It can be an incredible tool of creative force, a direct link to the writer’s inner thoughts. Great music channels emotion, ideology, struggle, and desire, but not all music is great.  Sometimes music is catchy and enjoyable, but fails to engage on a deeper level. Often, in our experience, Christian music falls into this second category. It tends to shy away from difficult topics. It sticks to what is safe, rarely progressing creatively or artistically.

It’s disheartening that you can flip through radio stations and instantly tell which one is the Christian station without having heard any lyrics or words. “Christian music” has become a style, rather than a lyrical emphasis. Genre should not be a factor in what makes a song Christian or not. In fact, some of our old hymns were originally drinking songs and folk tunes that were rewritten to proclaim truth (There might be a blog name in there somewhere). Can you imagine hearing Christian radio in a bar or pub today?

Music and Truth

Music and Truth go hand-in-hand.  People have always looked to media and celebrities to help them define what is “true” and “good”, and musical artists serve it up on a catchy platter.  The poetic lines resound again-and-again in our minds, impressing the artist’s thoughts on us whether we realize it or not.

A lot of people understand that. However, in their desire to avoid harmful influences, all they do is make sure that what they listen to isn’t “bad”. We think there’s a more useful way to respond. Instead of avoiding what is bad, we want to chase what is good.  Be careful about what you listen to; make strong, pure, uncompromising truth come out of your radio and let that bounce around in your head.

 

 

What Now?

Let’s set some expectations.  Namely, let’s answer the questions “What is The Tavern Hymnal trying to accomplish?,” and “How are we going to accomplish it?”

 

We want to find music that glorifies God just as much (if not more) than the songs on standard Christian radio today, but is better in other ways: with effort put into creativity, artistry, and overall excellence.  We want to find Biblical truth in places people might not normally look.  We want to have fun listening to and talking about music.

 

To do this, we’ve compiled a playlist on Spotify of music that we think is “good”, “worshipful”, and “interesting”.  It’s about an hour long, and it’s main goal is to give you a taste of what kinds of great music are out there.  We plan on making a new playlist every month, branching into a different theme or topic with each one and having a blog post to accompany them.

 

The Tavern Hymnal will do a number of things, and possibly not all of them in every post.  One month might describe an aspect of Christian radio that we would rather change, and how we might go about changing it.  Another might talk about a topic relating to music and/or Christianity, pulling-in specific songs or lyrics as examples. We may focus one month on biblical truth found in unlikely places in the music industry. It really depends on what we feel like talking about.

 

Most of all, we want this to be a conversation.  Sure, we are excited about sharing our music, but we would also love to listen to your favorite artists and hear what you have to say about truth in music.  Feel free to post songs, lyrics, ideas, and whatnot on this blog (we might make a Facebook page if you ask nicely). We want it to be a dialogue, not a lecture.


Good, artistic, truth-screaming music is out there, but sometimes you need to find it first. We just want to help, and glorify God in the process.

Youtube Playlist