by Don Hustad. Carol Stream, IL: Hope Publishing Co., 1993. 595 pp., $29.95.
No matter where we worship, we are faced today with the changing nature of worship. Hustad traces the history of music and worship, marking the many times in the life of the church that music and worship have undergone significant, and often painful, renewal. The context given by Hustad helps us to better understand the changing dynamics of worship today.
Reading this book made me remember a story from 1 Samuel 24. In this story, David is trying to buy a threshing floor from Araunah on which to build an altar to God, but Araunah expresses his desire to give David the threshing floor. David's response is "No, but I will buy it from you for a price; I will not offer burnt offerings to the Lord my God that cost me nothing." David seems to argue that offerings given to God must come with some personal sacrifice.
I am very appreciative of Hustad's emphasis on church music as functional music. In some circles this would not be a popular concept. The goal of church music is to serve the purposes of God, which Hustad identifies as worship, proclamation, education, pastoral care, and fellowship. In defining church music in this way, Hustad provides us with a different tool by which to measure excellence and appropriateness. Church music is excellent and appropriate insofar as it achieves its function.
There remain, however, great gulfs between the musical languages of different congregations. Hustad deals concretely with the conflict that results from these communication gaps. He suggests that within the bounds of functionality and personal sacrifice, grace and judgment must be the overriding attitudes of both worshipers and worship planners. This he gives substance to in the last half of the book.
Practical applications are what occupy Hustad in the last 250 pages of this book. Worship planners will appreciate Hustad's attention to the details of worship and church music as well as his underlying realism and common sense regarding what is feasible for local congregations. Funerals, weddings, soloists, applause, evangelism are all topics addressed in this discussion.Hustad validates many worship styles, as long as worship is approached seriously.
If anyone has earned the credentials to act as a bridge between the more liturgical traditions and contemporary evangelical Protestantism, it is Hustad. His background stretches from membership in the Royal College of Organists (London) to serving as organist for the Billy Graham Evangelical Association. He was editor of The Worshiping Church (Hope, 1990) and recently retired as professor of church music at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky. Hustad has indeed become an important bridge builder, and this book will be instructive no matter what musical or theological background the reader brings to it.