Is it Christian and is it contemporary? In reality it is neither.
In Ezekiel 28:13 we find a description of Lucifer, who later became Satan. It reads: “Thou hast been in Eden the garden of God; every precious stone was thy covering, the sardius, topaz, and the diamond, the beryl, the onyx, and the jasper, the sapphire, the emerald, and the carbuncle, and gold: the workmanship of thy tabrets and of thy pipes was prepared in thee in the day that thou wast created.”
From this verse we see that Lucifer had built-in percussion in his voice. Tabrets were a kind of drum used in ancient times during secular dance music—never in the temple. Pipes signify the ability to sing multiple parts at the same time. He was the master musician of heaven and well knew how to use his abilities. Of course, he also is well capable of perverting his abilities. So, we can see that a lot of so called Christian contemporary music is neither Christian nor contemporary since it was created by the prince of darkness long before this world began.
Unfortunately, if someone today is going to present a talk or paper on any given subject, that individual must prove that he/she has the qualifications to speak on that subject. Since I am going to speak to the subject of Christian Contemporary Music, I must present my credentials for doing so.
My mother had a degree in music from a prestigious music college and began teaching piano to me at age five. After taking lessons from her for more than ten years, she recognized that I needed more advanced teaching and arranged that I study under the concert pianist for the Tacoma, Washington, symphony orchestra. I also had lessons in pipe organ and trumpet and voice lessons which enabled me to sing in three different a Capella choirs. Over the years I collected an extensive library on the subject of music, its structure, and its usage in Scripture, and have been very interested in what the Spirit of Prophecy has to say about it. Throughout the Scriptures, there are 505 texts that deal with music in one manner or another.
Where I lived in northeast Ohio for 30 years is significant as well as the fact that I have been to Haiti on two different occasions. During those 30 years in northeast Ohio I was a pediatric anesthesiologist in a large pediatric hospital. Almost no one knows more about consciousness or unconsciousness, including altered states of consciousness, than an anesthesiologist for it is important to understand what happens in the brain during these times.
Christian contemporary music acquires its rhythms from music that has a “rock” beat. A “rock” beat places the emphasis on the second and fourth beat of the measure instead of the usual emphasis on the first and third beat of the measure. These rhythms were brought to this country from the Voodoo of West Africa by the slaves that were brought to this country from the 1600s through the 1800s. The majority of these slaves came in through the port of New Orleans. New Orleans was a “bawdy’’ city with many brothels and night clubs of unsavory reputation. Each business attempted to attract clients. Many had their own bands which had picked up on these African rhythms. This is not only my reasoning.
The National Geographic, April 2007 edition, in a 4-page spread-out clearly shows the evolution of “rock” and “rap” music. I also have in my possession a photograph of a chart produced by Mick Jagger and his “Rolling Stones” showing the exact same thing.
As the African rhythms evolved, we find the birth of Jazz. This may be crude, but it is unfortunately the necessary truth and can be checked out on Wikipedia. Since so much perverted sex has been involved in these rhythms you would only expect “Jazz” to come from the same venue also. The word Jazz is derived from the slang word for the male ejaculation called Gizz pronounced like “Jazz” with the sound of a short “i” as in the word “it”.
As these African rhythms evolved, they developed into what is called “rhythm and blues.” All these various rhythms had the same strong emphasis on the second and fourth beats of each measure. The emphasis was always by the overpowering beat of a drum.
By the time we get to the late ‘40s and early ‘50s, such performers as Elvis Presley, Bill Haley and the Comets, and others, became popular. This is where northeast Ohio comes in. The following information was acquired right out of the Akron public library. There was a disc jockey by the name of Alan Freed, who around 1948–1950 became very popular playing ONLY rhythm and blues music. About that time, Alan received a job offer from station WGAR in Cleveland, a 50,000-watt clear channel station that covered 38 states and half of Canada.
In Cleveland, Ohio, there is a street by the name of East Prospect Avenue. In the ‘50s from East Ninth to East Thirtieth there was nothing but little beer joints, sleazy night clubs, and places for prostitution. Alan Freed frequented these places so much so that he knew most of the “ladies of the evening” on a first name basis. Every profession has its own colloquialisms that are unique to that profession and prostitution in Cleveland at that time was no different. There were TWO words that were used by the prostitutes … and they were NOT used together as they are today in “Rock and Roll.”
To “rock” meant to jump into bed with the prostitute and perform the illegitimate sex act. To “roll” was derived from the old expression, “to ‘roll’ a drunk.” To roll a drunk was derived from when someone would notice some drunk lying in a doorway with an empty bottle of booze next to him while he was oblivious to everything. The inebriated person would be turned over and his pockets would be searched to steal whatever he might have left. It would then be said that the drunk had been rolled. The prostitutes of East Prospect Avenue in Cleveland had picked up this term and applied it to the “John” (the prostitute’s client) by taking his money from him for services rendered.
Alan Freed also picked up on these terms. In early 1953 he got the idea to have a jam session composed of half a dozen of these new bands that had taken to playing the relatively new kind of music known as “rhythm and blues.” As the session began to take shape it was scheduled to be held in the Aragon Ballroom in Cleveland which is still there today. Alan had decided to hold the session on March 21, 1953. Notice the date – the spring equinox. People involved in this kind of music are frequently involved in the occult as well. The spring equinox is of particular significance to people who dabble in astrology and spring fertility rites, such as the Druids.
About a month before this grand, first-time jam session was to take place Alan was about to go live one evening for his disc jockey program. As the microphone went live, Alan yelled into the “mic” … “Ladies and gentlemen, we are going to ‘rock’ and we are going to ‘roll’ all night long,’’ and the term “Rock and Roll” was coined. This is why the Rock and Roll hall of fame is in Cleveland, Ohio, and not in New York or Hollywood.
The term “Rock and Roll” came right out of illicit sex and prostitution and whatever else goes along with that lifestyle. So, the next time some young man decides to say to another about some good-looking young lady, “wow, she rocks,” it would be wise to consider just what he is saying. No self-respecting young lady would want that to be said about her.
Now to Haiti. My wife and I went there in 1983 and 1984 with an interdenominational medical team of about 25. About the third night after we arrived, we heard the drums start up and they went on incessantly for hours into the night. A couple of days later we learned that there had been a Voodoo ritual up on the mountainside, and that a young man had been gruesomely sacrificed. This of course was illegal, and when the secret police hunted down the perpetrators they were dealt with just as viciously.
The book, Dark Sunrise, printed by The Review and Herald in 1957 was written by a lady and her husband who had been missionary teachers in Haiti for nine years. In it are three chapters containing much information about Voodoo and its music. I will at this time quote some from this book, as it is the best source from someone who lived there for many years.
“Ceremonial drums are constructed in accordance with a ritual born many generations ago in the heart of Africa. Upon completion they are dressed for baptism in white net and lace and are baptized in the name of the loa (Voodoo god) to whom they are thus dedicated. From then on, they are considered not simply the mysterious agents that call down spirits and keep them earth-bound; they are actually worshiped as gods. It is believed that the drum has a will of its own, and that if for some reason it disapproves of the drummer’s attitude or tactics, it will refuse to respond to him. As for the gods, food offerings are placed for the drums, to strengthen them for the performance of duty. They are put to sleep at night with much tender regard, and nearby are placed magic charms to protect them from harm. When the spirits come, they often pay elaborate homage to the drums, for without them they would be seriously handicapped in making their earthly visits. Externally they enter on water and fire, but they are led to the inner consciousness of men on a drumbeat.
“Each of the three drums had a definite and particular beat, different from the other two, yet all beats integrated to form a whole rhythm pattern, a rhythm that suffused the atmosphere with mysticism and a quality of seductive subtlety that seeped into the consciousness of the dancers until it became part of their being, and they in turn became part of a larger, fuller rhythm pattern—the heartbeat of Haiti. It was a steady rhythm, maintained without interruption that eventually took on a substantial character, a sort of magnet that drew all motion around itself like an enveloping cloak. Other activity came and went—the chants, the prostrating, the greetings to the gods—but the drumming went on relentlessly, its tone and intensity rising and falling, but always above and beyond all else, unifying sound and movement into a continuous whole.” Dark Sunrise, p. 238, 239.
I have personally seen the site of one of these Voodoo rituals. Describing it once to an audience, a little black lady from Haiti stood up and confirmed what I had said as the absolute truth. Different spirits are called up on the beat of a drum. The Voodoo priest has spent years learning his trade and he knows which particular beat or rhythm to use in order to call up a particular spirit demon. When this kind of devil music is brought into one of our churches, the people do not have the slightest idea which spirit demon they might be calling up to possess them.
On our second visit to Haiti, we went to the Adventist church on the campus of our school and college near Port-au-Prince. The music was beautiful. A couple sang a Mozart aria. Of course, it was in the official language of Haiti, which is French. At the end of the service a 50-voice choir sang some of the most beautiful music I have ever heard. Later that afternoon as my wife and I were walking across the campus we saw the young man who sang in the duet coming towards us. As he came near, I stopped him and asked why the people in Haiti sing such beautiful music in their churches while in the United States the churches are bringing in this “rock style music” and just adding some “Jesus” words to it. His answer was, “Very simple … we know where it came from!”
As an anesthesiologist I know that human brains function with different wave patterns. There are Alpha and Beta and Delta and Theta waves. Each shows what level of activity is going on in the person’s brain. Alpha waves are relatively slow … in the range of 2-7 waveforms per second. This activity is found during deep sleep and also during the altered state found during a trance, such as during hypnosis. This waveform is also induced in a matter of seconds when music containing an overpowering “rock’’ beat is incorporated.
In making this presentation, I am accused of just not liking this style of music. However, “like” has nothing to do with it. There are many things in my carnal nature that I like which I no longer choose to do. If “like” was the criterion for everything that we do we would certainly be in a sad state, for it is written in Jeremiah 17:9, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it’’? It is not safe to trust in one’s own feelings, likes, or dislikes. One must base all choices on a “thus saith the Lord.”
The time has come for the watchmen on the wall to stand up and give the trumpet a certain sound. It is time that we stand up and walk out of any place where the music of the devil is being performed. Heaven help us.
Gene Swanson was an Adventist pediatric anesthesiologist in a large pediatric hospital. He retired in Montrose, Colorado, before he passed away.