I wrote this post three years ago, and it came to mind this morning as I was realizing I hadn't taught Sunday School last week (Stake Conference) and didn't have a lesson summary to post. I hope it helps someone, somehow, to re-post it today - updated in a couple of spots to reflect my current situation.
Personally, I think the focus on hymns and little instrumentation in Sacrament Meeting is a position taken in opposition to what is perceived as over-emotionalization in worship - a substitution of emotionalism for what we perceive as spirituality - a perception of emotional manipulation compared to encouraging the still, small voice. I appreciate that concern (and share it), but I am not overjoyed (in the pure sense of that word) as much as I'd like in our meetings.
I wish we were more open to expanding our musical experiences in church, but I also believe there is deep truth in the concern that governs what we do. That belief was reinforced every time I saw the commercials where I used to live for a "church that rocks"
- commercials where 5-year-old kids were shaking wildly to the rock band's music as they were "moved by the Spirit of God". I appreciate differing expressions of worship among religious traditions very much, but that image disturbed me then, and its memory disturbs me still. I think the brethren really do understand the concern of members for a broader range of musical expression in our worship, but I also think I understand their hesitancy to loosen the reins officially - especially when the actual Church Handbook of Instructions' guidelines allow for MUCH more than most members realize.
I believe if the CHI was understood better (especially the difference between "should", "may", "some", etc. and "shall", "must", "never", etc.) and followed more closely (especially the constant call to follow the Spirit in making real-life decisions), it actually would loosen up the Church musically. (And not just musically, but in many other significant ways. That's a different post, however.)