Why Vocal Clarity Is Essential in Sacred Music
Music is powerful. Music alone, without words, has the power to stimulate emotions in us. It can make us feel happy, sad, excited, awestruck, angry, or fearful. But add words to the mix, and music carries us a step further. Now it gives shape to those emotions by engaging our minds, causing us to think about a particular set of values, truths, or narratives. That’s why, as Christians, the words of the songs we sing should not only be well-written and biblical, but also easily understood.
What Happens When Clarity is Lost?
Many popular musical styles use a technique called musical distortion. Distortion alters a sound wave in order to produce a desired effect. When applied to vocals, distortion effects can be used to create a raspy growl, add deep guttural elements, and speed up delivery of the lyrics. When listening to musical genres that use vocal distortion extensively, you sometimes find yourself straining to understand the words as the quality of sound has been drastically altered.
Even if vocal distortion has not been deliberately used to obscure the clarity of vocal elements, words can still be obliterated by the sheer volume of the music and background effects. Without clearly understood words, the music loses its power to communicate a clear message.
Why Do We Sing?
As believers, our goals for the music we sing should be greater than simply providing entertainment. Scripture gives us two clear purposes for music sung by the people of God:
1. Worship—The Psalms are replete with examples of music in general and singing in particular being used to worship God. Hebrews 13:15 teaches us that our words (which includes the songs that we sing) are to be a “sacrifice of praise to God.”
2. Edification—The second purpose of music in the church is for God’s people to edify their fellow believers. Our communication should “minister grace unto the hearers” (Eph. 4:29).
Why is Vocal Clarity Important in the Church?
In order to accomplish these two goals, some things should be true about the words of the songs we sing:
· They should be biblically accurate—We should evaluate the words of each song to determine whether they accurately communicate the truths of Scripture.
· They should be heard—Words that are not heard cannot edify. If the music is so loud that it obliterates the words, then the message is lost.
· They should be clear—The listener should easily be able to understand what is being said. Certain musical elements and styles can prevent the edifying work of the song by making it impossible for people to hear clearly.
Does the music you listen to accomplish both the goals of worshipping God and edifying believers? At Ben Everson Music, we want to be intentional in the songs we sing and the recordings we create. That’s why we place such high value on the clarity of our words. We want our words to be easily understood so they can accurately communicate the truths of Scripture.