In his book, Performing Rites, Simon Frith betrays the sin of much of the emphasis on classical and traditional music in the church. According to Frith, the distinction between classical (traditional) and contemporary (popular) music developed in 19th century Europe and North America. Prior to this time there was no differentiation between the two and often major concerts would include selections from both. But by the end of the 19th century people begin to stereotype popular music as fit more for the bars than for the concert halls. The concert halls became safe havens for those aspiring to higher social status and the church was not long to follow suit in its attempts to “legitimize itself.” This was augmented by the rise of seminaries and professional clergy in the 20th century. With the growth of the upper and middle classes and their attempts to leave behind anything that smacked of poverty, classical (traditional) music became the only “proper” music for church.

So the next time anyone downplays the public’s appreciation of rock and roll and its importance to the Great Commandment, just remember that what they are really doing is celebrating their separation from the masses of lower class people. Is this really the actions of people for whom Jesus died?