From Connie W. Adams, “The Quality of Our Singing” Plainfield Church Bulletin. Church of Christ, Plainfield, Indiana, March 7, 1983:
I am not disposed to be a chronic censor of the song book. While there are some songs which are unscriptural (and we have never seen any song book totally exempt from all criticism), we certainly do believe in poetic license. It is possible to become so literal in our understanding of words that it would be impossible for some of the brethren to ever understand the book of Psalms or some of the prophetic writings where figures of speech abound. But for the life of me, it is hard to derive much spiritual food from “The Jericho Road”, “Let Us Have a Little Talk With Jesus”, or “I’ll Be Somewhere List’ning For My Name.” Some of the songs which the brethren seem to glory in were written for Pentecostal-type camp meetings and were designed to show off bass, alto or tenor leads. The start and stop, hold your breath, let it out, pat your foot, up, down, in, out type of songs seem to be what many of the song leaders prefer. Meanwhile, we have reared a generation of young people who do not know the great songs of faith. They are being greatly deprived and impoverished and we have many of our song leaders to blame for it.
Earlier in the article he cited the widespread use of Ellis Crum’s Sacred Selections as one reason why “congregations have been victimized by song leaders who prefer only the show-off quartet type songs, mostly of the Stamps-Baxter variety” and laments “in a book with well over 600 songs, why must a congregation be limited to about 75 songs while some of the greatest songs of faith are never used?” Adams then noted that in the prior decade (which would have been 1973-1983) “every time “The Old Rugged Cross”, or “Amazing Grace”, or “Tell Me The Story of Jesus” was sung, [he] had to ask for it.”
My thanks to Chris Cotten for calling this to my attention some years ago while we sorted a great deal of bulletins—a great deal– and along the way found a few nuggets. In the thirty years since Adams penned this article so-called mainstream Churches of Christ experienced a decade or so of worship wars. I wonder how things panned out among Non-Institutional churches during this same period of time. I don’t know Connie Adams preaching appointments for 1973-1983, but wonder how representative his observation might be today. Does a similar situation obtain today? Can a generalization even be fairly made?