Monday, 25 September 2017

Congregational worship

I've started attending early morning Sunday service at the local Anglican church--which follows the traditional Book of Common Prayer liturgy--including many of the hymns I learned by memory when I was a child.

Perhaps it is a sign of getting older that I am nostalgic about things from way back in the day. But at the same time, there is great musical beauty in many of the classic hymns, as well as deep theology which is sometimes lacking in "choruses" which tend to repeat the same few lines over and over rather than digging deeper and exploring the thoughts being presented.

It's also quite appealing to have music that is designed to be sung as a group rather than meant to be sung by "entertainers" (dare I say that?)--and which is often difficult for the average person to sing along with chorally. In fact, in this church no one "leads" the music, other than the pianist playing the tune. It allows the congregation to focus on the words and to listen to each other, really "joining together" in praise and worship. There certainly isn't any "distraction" of watching the worship band or just letting the band do the singing.

In the 60 plus years I've attended services in a wide variety of churches, I've enjoyed nearly every kind of worship music I've encountered (except, I have to admit, when lyrics have been twisted awkwardly to fit modern sensibilities of gender and other issues. I understand the need to update lyrics in some cases, but does it really have to be done so awkwardly? Surely there are writers among the congregation who could rewrite lyrics--or write entirely new stanzas--that have better wording. Yes, end of rant). I understand the need to reach out to different age groups, too. But why can't we have a mixture of music styles so that people of all ages have an opportunity to worship together?

Even in these very traditional services I've been attending (and in which I'm decidedly "junior" in age!), with 3 hymns each service, while 2 are pretty traditional there is always at least 1 more modern piece. And the church offers two services, with the second offering more "youthful" music--not to mention regular jazz vespers services and other similar worship options. Some people attend all the services, which is pretty awesome I think.

I know that worship music can be a hot-button issue, and I'm not trying to start any arguments here. Each to his choice--but why oh why can't we find more ways to be in unity? Music is such a great opportunity to share and be generous. And anyway, worship music isn't meant to be about "getting my fix" or "making me feel good" after all. It's supposed to be about worshipping God, isn't it? Together?

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