Some things are difficult or impossible to label. Even when nearly everyone uses the labels, they can still be difficult to explain. Take for example these widely used terms, “grunge” and “emo.” Just what comprises the rules for being either grunge or emo, is hard to explain, because the definition varies from person to person. I looked to Wikipedia for help.
Grunge- a style of music and fashion popularized in the early 1990’s in the Pacific Northwest. Grunge fashion (or anti-fashion as some called it) was characterized by plaid fannel shirts, stonewashed blue jeans.
Let’s see Pacific Northwest, flannel shirts, blue jeans, and scraggly beards. I thought this style was called Lumberjack!
Emo- meaning being comfortable with oneself. Its a more direct way of altering the feelings one has without words, just emotion.
……………..crickets chirping…….more crickets……….I think I will leave this one alone. The point is that labeling music, fashion, or anything that depends on interpretation, is tricky business.
In church circles, over the past decade or two, the term “blended worship” has risen to almost unimaginable popularity. Almost everyone in the Christian church has heard or used this term. To me, “blended worship” is as useful a phrase, as emo or grunge. Even though MANY people use it, I am not sure what it means. What is it a blend of? When I have challenged people to explain what the term meant, the typical answer is something like,,”you know, hymns and praise songs.” Excellent!! A starting point. Ok, now all that is needed is a definition of each of these song types. After that is done, we can look into the nuts and bolts of this “blended worship” thing.
St Augustine defined a Hymn very simply, cantus est cum laude Dei. Which means, loosely translated, “a song that praises God.” If I weave my rudimentary understanding of the term “blended worship,” with St Augustine’s definition of Hymn, I can easily describe what “blended worship” is. Apparently, “blended worship” is a mixture of praise songs and praise songs. I hope this has been helpful to you.
In this case, as with the Lumberjack versus grunge debate, the definitions have only made things more confusing. Since so many people have uttered the phrase, “blended worship,” a further look into what people mean, or think they mean, by the phrase seems like an important endeavor. What are the real or imagined distinctions between praise songs(Hymns) and praise songs? What is the conversation really about? Stay tuned.