Singing The Old Paths — The Last of Our Treasures!


I’ve been listening to many kinds of Gospel Music and singing the past couple days.

It”s covered a large spectrum of both new and old songs, performances by many different groups and in all walks of life.

I found particular interest in listening to many of the older songs so many of us sang in our churches growing up, fantastic renditions that have never grown old even with the passing of much time.

Those songs are just as alive now as they were then.  I made some observations to those who might be interested.

Many years down the path, I am amazed at how anointed many of those singers were.

I have no desire to cross swords with anyone today, but there’s no need in speaking if one cannot be real.

The modern conveyance of YouTube has allowed us to go back and not only listen, but even to see many of these groups and individuals sing and observe everything they did while on the platform, wherever it was.

Some may have grown tired of me saying this, but I can’t help but say it again.  There is only one Holy Spirit and there is nothing like it.

Many of us learned to know the Spirit, by what we felt as someone brought forth hymns and special songs to God’s people.

God likes good music.  I think it’s why He gave us a voice to sing, just so He can hear us sing about Him.

Again, I don’t want trouble with anyone, but things came to me as I watched and listened to so many of these people who have been singing Gospel music for many, many years — some even before I was born, and that’s a long time.  Many have now gone on to meet The LORD.

I was basically raised in a prominent ‘Oneness’ organization.  However, I also have a large background in other holiness organizations and I once traveled in urban and rural areas and perhaps have heard about every kind of presentation there has been.

I have sung to so many different kinds of people, both super-cultured and country and in many other types of churches.  God gave me an ear to listen.  And I listened.

I watched even again lately, as some of these folk sung and I felt the Holy Ghost so powerfully.

But I had a problem.  Old thoughts and ideas are often hard to put aside and difficult to erase.

At first, I could not stop looking at their make-up and ear rings.  The old tape played that asked, “How can I feel the anointing of the Holy Ghost on these people.”

Chills running up and down my spine; those Holy Ghost ‘goose bumps’ that cover from head to toe and tears flowing from my eyes.

Because of modern video, I saw how moved the other people were who were listening in the group or audience and witnessed more tears flowing and hands raised to the one who gives the Song.

I saw the joy of The LORD expressed on almost all faces, and saw crowds leap to their feet, not just in honor to the singers, but in genuine appreciation for how the Spirit had moved through them.  I have been stirred over and over again.

As an experienced musician and singer, I truly realize that many of these people singing were not always so spiritual in their music.

Back in the day, some were much more reserved and many put on a good show.  Gospel music was a business and still is, a very lucrative one I might add.

Many have become Stars and their show has become the most important thing.  Popularity often changes someone talented and many lose sight of what is most important.

But I am awed at many of the old-timers who have traveled back and forth across this county all their lives, singing about The LORD, some even in numerous countries.

Somewhere along the way, the One they were singing about became dearer and closer and the Spirit began to move upon them in a much stronger and special way.

You know, you just can’t argue when you see these people with tears washing their souls and hands lifted.

In bygone days, many would never have raised their hands and shouted “Amen” or “Praise God.”

I still get a blessing when I see the Holy Ghost shake people.  Where I was once so critical, it’s almost funny, but warming, to see the women weeping openly and trying their best to dab their mascara to keep it from smearing and finally giving up and just letting the tears flow, weeping in the presence of God, their bodies shaking under that sweet washing of the Spirit.

It shows me a new side to God that I would not allow myself to acknowledge in the old days, because of the way I was taught.

I feel guilty about my harsh feelings I had toward many of these folk.  And I ask myself the same question I have been asking all these years.  “How could we sing the songs these souls wrote, how could we even dance to their foot patting tunes and buy all their records and tapes and condemn them so at the same time?”

In the past eight years since I first got a computer, I’ve listened to about every Pentecostal organizational music, choirs and singing I could find.  Even “free Pentecostal” type churches and many “non-denominational” folk too.

I have a pretty good idea what’s out there and frankly, who’s got it and who doesn’t.

Perhaps unknowingly, we denied Heaven to many of these people, because they did not have our card or their doctrinal issues did not line up with us.

We said they were not in the Bride of Christ and regardless of what good people they were, they just weren’t going to “make it.”

With as much humility as I can express, it seems we have paid a dear price for our lack of love and it has resulted in a serious lack of true anointing in many of our churches, particularly in the music.

One major Pentecostal church has continued to follow the old paths in music and worship and is known all over the world.  They managed to keep a balance in what was new music and the depth and expression of the old.

But the Pastor never let the old songs die.  No matter what the progressive choir and voices did and they were some of the very finest, off the cuff he would just start singing one of the old-time choruses and help to usher back in that undoubted moving of the Spirit that makes people laugh and cry, sometimes all at once and remind us of what God brought us through and where we came from.

Don’t read in to what I’m saying.  Great moves of the Spirit were experienced with the new songs and instruments, but for many, something has slowly drifted away.

“Give me that old time Religion, it’s good enough for me” is no longer good enough for too many of us.

Those who speak about how entertainment has taken over our churches are scoffed at and accused of speaking against the Anointed.  On the internet, these people will literally eat you alive for suggesting such a thing.

You know what makes me know I’m right about this?  It’s the Silence!

A few will agree with what I’m saying, but most have not one word to say.  My heart was sorely broken recently to hear of a very powerful church that I’ve know for so many years that recently split — you got it — over the music.

I know firsthand the anointed music this church produced in the years gone by.  But I also know when it started to turn, and why.

I will make one bold statement.  If the ministry had truly promoted the Gifts of the Spirit, particularly Discerning of Spirits, they would have absolutely been aware when their music departments were switching from one Spirit to another spirit.

The desire to grow larger, may have drowned out the shift in the spirit behind the music.

Every organization had their own stars and politics promoted a new group of vocals.  I’ve said before that many of us knew these singers were extremely talented, but we also knew they were not spiritual.

No matter how great a voice they had, there was something flat, a something that was off.

We knew it, but those in leadership promoted these people and didn’t seem to notice their lack of true anointing, because they were so good.

In trying to be the best and present the best, they somehow missed that something was afoot.

The educated trumped the uneducated, and louder to the point of screaming, became foremost.  Expensive keyboards and light-shows followed.

It will crack some nerves when I suggest that God may have taken some of our anointing in music and given it to many of those we once demeaned and cast aside.

According to my observation, however flawed it may be, the most anointed music and singing is no longer coming from most of our Pentecostal churches in the mainstream.

God is using what we’ve called “denominal” folk in much the same way He used us.  Their harmony is incredible and the moving of the Spirit, when they sing, is so awesome and powerful, one cannot help but weep and shake under the Power.

I’m not so sure many of these singers, and some are very professional, truly realize the anointing that is upon them, but something tells me by the expression on their faces that they know there is a power at work that is far beyond their ability.

Tonight I heard musicians who were playing over the top of the person who was singing or leading the choruses.  It simply means they were playing too loud, their performance on the keyboard, overpowered everything else.

What hurts me is, I think they don’t know any better.

No one taught them how to follow, that they were not the star of the evening service, but their job was to accompany the service, not dominate it.

In two instances lately, I observed the keyboard player pitch the song too high for the elder person to sing well.

It may not be intentional, but it happens too often.  They seem unaware the enemy is using them to devalue the elder, as well as their music.

You can drown out the Holy Ghost, especially if the Spirit decides to move in a quiet, reverent manner.

You can also shout off and leave the Spirit.  We somehow forgot that the Holy Ghost will not perform or conform to our domination.

He will not dance to our step or our tune.  If it is not all about Him, He is politely not interested.

We are admonished to “sing a new song unto The LORD.”  That’s also scriptural and here’s nothing wrong with a new song.

If there had been no new songs, we would never have loved many of the ones we do today.

It’s the “unto The LORD” part that seems to be greatly lacking.  I’m watching an entire generation of true anointed gospel singing die away and there doesn’t seem to be anything anyone can do about it.

In other words, we have “hung our harps on a willow!”

First published: November 4, 2011.

~ Robert Blackburn

Robert Blackburn Robert Blackburn



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