16 November 2008

Worship Matters

This morning our last hymn was an Round or I suppose you could call it a canon.  Our choir director came forward and quickly instructed the congregation on how to sing it -- it took us a couple of times but we did it quite well. 

The occurrence of the hymn brought to the fore of my mind several issues regarding the worship life of the congregation I serve.  

Issue 1.  Localized music.  At least once a month a group from the various fiddle classes get together on a Sunday evening to have a jam session at my church.  Usually about 8 or 12 folk gather and we bang out traditional music and usually splice in a few hymns that we have learned. I have yet to formally approach those who gather if they would be willing to play on a Sunday morning but I can only imagine how some live music accompanying both the piano and congregation would help out worship and add some spice.  Some hymns were meant to be belted out on a organ with all the stops, foot pedals and pipes a'blasting  -- A Mighty Fortress Is Our God for example, but some other hymns were meant to be played by a group of fiddlers with a mandolin or banjo strumming along  -- think Be Thou My Vision.  Addendum: the same issue could be made for local art in worship too.)

Issue 2.  Congregational Singing.  The 49th book I read this year, The Singing Thing Too,  by John Bell got my mind buzzing, pertaining to congregational singing.  A congregation desperately needs a person from the congregation dedicated to teaching new songs and helping the congregation to sing more and better.  Folk seem to desire, genuinely, and want to sing but are very resistant to singing in worship.  A quick introduction to some new music, world music, Iona, Taize, & etc. would aide a worship service tremendously, but if no one is properly teaching it then...  I think a lot of the "worship wars" could be averted if folk were willing to take some time and research available music, use musicians who are locally available, and trust their own resources to sing and praise God.  It seems folk only see a "traditional" service and a "contemporary" service as options when there are a plethora of healthier choices which could make the First Day services flourish.

Issue 3.  Song and Movement.  Sure I would like for folk to dance in worship, but I'm not sure how or when.  My point, however, is the linkage between songs and movements.  I would like to participate in the renewal of mainstream Protestantism.  A close look at moments of renewal and revival periods will reveal marriage of revival and song.  

To fund the spiritual imagination of the Social Gospel, Walter Rauschenbusch collected every hymn he could find that dealt with social issues -- in conjunction with this many new social gospel thematic hymns were written.  Can you imagine the Civil Rights movement without We Shall Overcome?  
Or more recently -- I wonder if the Obama campaign would have touched a generation so if it were not for the will.i.am videos? 

These are some issues I am working on right now...

1 comment:

Sjohnsonwv said...

Thinking of music, singing, dance, and worship brings my thoughts imediatly to The Triple Rock Babtist Church and The Reverend Cleophus James singing "The Old Landmark." (from the Blues Brothers Movie) I always think to my self, "That's where I want to go to worship."