I live in two “worlds” – my church world and my barbershop world. Through preaching and teaching I have made many friends in churches around the world, and through the hobby of barbershop quartet singing I have made another set of friends around the world. Both of these circles of friendship are special to me and have given me great joy. Some of my closest friends are those who share the same overlapping circles.

But there is another sense in which these worlds intersect – music is vital to both. And in my own particular church background, the overlap is even greater, since our singing is done as four-part a cappella harmony, very similar to barbershop music. In this post I want to raise some concerns I have about music in worship that parallel concerns about music in barbershop.

The title of this article is inspired by an article written many years ago (“The Dangers of Sophistication”) by a barbershop music arranger named Val Hicks. In the article, Hicks lamented certain trends he saw in the barbershop style of music. As I reflect on music used in worship (at least in my church circles), I see some of the same dangers. Continue reading