Home » Music In The Church » Splicing the SACRED with the SECULAR [Part 3/6]: Opposing Ends of the Spectrum

Splicing the SACRED with the SECULAR [Part 3/6]: Opposing Ends of the Spectrum

Let’s get some definitions out of the way before we continue (special thanks to Bing.com for providing these definitions… these FREE definitions):


SPLICE (v) – join or connect (a rope or ropes) by interweaving the strands


SACRED (adj) – connected with God or dedicated to a religious purpose and so deserving veneration (respect)


SECULAR (adj) – denoting attitudes, activities, or other things that have no religious or spiritual basis: contrasted with sacred


So now we can get into the nitty gritty. We can read from the definitions above that SACRED and SECULAR are on two opposing ends of the spectrum. One is connected with God and the other is separated from God. That in itself should be enough to make a decisive decision as to why the two shouldn’t be mixed, but for church musicians that play secular music OR secular musicians that play church music, there is that grey area of “It’s not that simple”.

As a church musician for virtually all my life AND a holder of a Bachelor of Arts degree in Jazz Studies with a focus in Jazz Piano, I see on a regular basis how Jazz/R&B chords and song structures are quite present in Gospel music. In fact, I use a lot of what I have learned/still learning in what I do in church. So does that mean that I’m splicing the sacred with the secular? If I include Jazzy or Neo-Soul chords into a hymn, does that dilute the actual message of the hymn?

The issue is not necessarily the music itself since music without words is simply music. It’s really the words that can either bless or corrupt a song turning it into something sacred or something secular.

But then when we consider secular songs that have turned into Gospel songs, I believe it gets down to the Psychoacoustics question of “Which one did you hear first?” For example, Kirk Franklin’s “Looking For You” is a remake of Patrice Rushen’s “Haven’t You Heard”. While I’m not picking on Kirk Franklin, that’s just a great example of “Which one did you hear first?”

For the old heads that heard Patrice Rushen first, Gospel may not be on your mind because that’s probably not what you associate the song with.

However, for the young heads who ONLY know the Kirk Franklin remake, it’s more Gospel (or, at least, “churchy”) than anything else.

So, in this case, the secular has been spliced with the sacred, but is THAT a right thing to do?

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