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Table-turning Anyone?

  • November 29, -0001
In spite of the many beautiful examples of Celtic Christian art that survive today from the period of the Celtic revival, we know the names of only three artists, and only one of them (Muiredach) because he told us himself, having carved his name on the base of the cross he sculpted. Celtic Christian artists appear to have had no interest in making a name for themselves or ensuring a continuing pecuniary reward from their labors. They simply wrote, carved, painted, and etched to the glory of God.

I thought of this recently as I was worshiping in a church that uses contemporary worship songs in their liturgy. There it was, both on the bulletin and on the screen projecting the words for the congregation - that licensing number, unique to each user, which says to anyone who needs to know that this church has paid for the right to use this music, so that the composers can get whatever royalty or fee may be due them from our worship.

Every time I see that little identifier I want to get up and start turning over some tables or ripping down a video screen. Today's Christian artists are happy for us to worship with their music, as long as we pay the pipers and make sure to acknowledge their "ownership" of the copyright. I'm all for copyright protections - it's just too tempting for someone to make changes or false claims about material he stole from someone else. But I have a really hard time with all this nickle-and-dime-ing the people of God for the right to use certain music in worship.

Perhaps we could put a vending device at each seat in the pew. That way, those who think the music is worth paying for could drop in a nickle or whatever for each tune. And those of us who think most of it isn't worth the paper it's published on can simply thumb through the hymnal, providing, of course, there's still a hymnal to be thumbed.

T. M. Moore

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