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Performance vs. Worship

I’m over it.

January 23rd, 2018 | Songwriting | | Comments: 0

There is performance.

There is worship.

They can be opposing forces in the minds of those who view them as such, but these attributes of church music (and other displays of spiritual music playing) are not necessarily at opposite ends of a spectrum.

When worship is well performed and a performance is worshipful, there is no longer anything to argue about. This “one versus the other” argument is so tired and worn out. You can play your heart out and play well. That is not impossible.

What constitutes a worshipful performance (or inversely, well-performed worship)? That debate could go on forever. But one thing is certain, worship and performance are NOT mutually exclusive circles on a Venn diagram.

I’m so over it. You should be too. Perform well. Worship well.

{end of debate}

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Good Music is Ignorable

In the 3 levels of music, 1 is ignorable and 2 are not.

man listening to music at computer

As I see it, there are three levels of music.


Bad music distracts like the humming of a common appliance or the yapping of a small dog and cannot be ignored. Technical deficiencies, unhoned songs, underdeveloped skills, and lack of attention to details incite the listener to quickly find the source of pain and snuff it out. Amateurs, delusional artists, and tone-deaf listeners don’t believe there is such a thing as “bad” music.


Good music is ignorable. Attention–demanding activities like reading, writing, or working can be accomplished while listening to “good” music. If musicians, engineers, and producers perform their jobs at industry–acceptable levels, their efforts are enjoyed as soundtrack material or supplemental background ambience like one of the those sleep noise machines. Most every musician is completely content to reach this level.


Great music (like bad music) cannot be ignored. Great music transcends, consumes, and demands. It interrupts conversations, moves bodies, chills skin, persuades minds, breaks hearts, inspires change, incites envy/jealousy, and peels back the heavens in holy awe. In the presence of “great” music only one thing can be done: listen.

“He buzzes like a fridge. He’s like a detuned radio.”
— Radiohead, “Karma Police,” OK Computer

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Telling It On The Mountain

The story behind recording “Go Tell It On The Mountain.”

cover art

In case you missed all the promotional efforts on Facebook and Twitter, in 2011 I released my version of “Go Tell It On The Mountain” as a free download. Try one of the following links to get the song now.

The Recording

Many thanks go to Lynn Graber of The Recording House for offering to record this Christmas song for free as part of his Christmas 2011 compilation. Six other artists recorded songs with Lynn. I’ve embedded their tracks below for you to enjoy.

As for my recording, I had a lot of fun working with Lynn at his swanky studio. We experimented with new microphone placement and techniques while recording the upright piano. I also was able to track harmonica using an Alesis iO Dock with an iPad and the Ground Up Audio Amps & Cabs iOS app.

“Go Tell It On The Mountain” by Scott Troyer

“O Come, O Come Emmanuel” by Autumn Ashley

“Some Children See Him” by Nathan Metz

“Emmanuel” by Larisa Grisham

“What Child Is This?” by Vanessa Ann Grisham

“Oh Holy Night” by Escaping Yesterday

“Free (A Christmas Song)” by Troy Erbe

Lyric Changes

In 1907, John W. Work, Jr. published a collection called Folk Song of the Amer­i­can Ne­gro, which contained the first publication of “Go Tell It On The Mountain.” For those listening closely to my version of the song, some of the lyrics have been modified from the original. I altered a few of the words and added a couple lines. Some may want to stone me for changing a classic, but I believe the changes to be improvements that are faithful to our best understanding of the gospel. Review the lyrics on the discography page to see if you can find the changes I made. Let me know what you think via the comments section below.

Go Tell It

This song may seem old-fashioned or out-of-date, but here’s the thing: there are places in the world where people have never heard that “Jesus Christ is born.” They may know the name Jesus Christ (possibly as it is used as a profanity in movies or TV), or they may have limited information (or even disinformation) about this Messiah guy. In spite of the nearly omnipresent accessibility of the internet and prevalence of computers, smart phones, and iDevices, there are still many people uninformed about the central character of the Christian faith. Often, governments prevent their people from receiving information about Christianity or persecute their citizens for spreading the information.

One of the most notorious of these regions of the world is North Korea. With the recent passing of dictator Kim Jong-Il, the North Korean government is likely to change its policies in regards to religious practice. Please read this article from Vernon Brewer, president of WorldHelp, to find out how you can “go tell it on the mountain.” Then donate via this link.

I met my maker. I made him cry.
And on my shoulder he asked me why
His people won’t fly through the storm.
I said: ‘Listen up man they don’t even know you’re born.’

– Oasis, “D’You Know What I Mean?,” Be Here Now

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