“50% Head, 50% Heart” was one of the pearls of wisdom I took away from the ALCM Region 4 Conference this past week. It was René Clausen who said in his keynote address that performing music is “50% Head, 50% Heart” and I couldn’t agree with him more. Clausen has served as conductor of the Concordia Choir of Concordia College, Moorhead, MN since 1986. The title of his address was “Where will we find sanctuary? – Contemporary directions in church music.” He says that for him, there are two criteria for the appropriateness of music: its suitability and its craftsmanship.
Dr. Clausen has become concerned that today’s young people do not know the great hymns of faith and decried what he called the “elixir of entertainment evangelism” for a feel-good experience. He quoted C.S. Lewis who said that “We must not rely on our emotions to lead our worship life.” The experience of religion and music come from the same source, the same part of our being.
Dr. Clausen told about the experience of his grandmother who had Alzheimer’s and at the end could not even recognize her children. Yet she remembered all the words of the gospel hymn, “Softly and tenderly Jesus is calling. Calling for you and for me.” I found a clip from the movie, “Junebug,” which featured this hymn as seen below.
He said that out of 71 students in his Concert Choir, 68 of them did not know the great hymn, “Hyfrydol” (Love divine, all loves excelling).
Now, that’s surprising, isn’t it?