David Brooks, in a 2007 piece in the New York Times, discusses the movement from integration to fragmentation in American rock music. The 1970s saw bands like the Rolling Stones and Springsteen drawing from country, soul, and blues to converge in fresh, integrative rock styles. Groups such as these mark the era of “super-bands” that could sell out stadiums, some of which still do today. But since that era, we’ve seen a splintering of music into thousands of ghettos. The result is that music-making in the modern era, at least among rock musicians, is very disconnected with the past, lacking any sense of creative continuity and integration with the musical building-blocks that have come before.
Philosopher and liturgical theologian, Nicholas Wolterstorff, recently reminded listeners at the “Liturgy, Music, and Space” Conference hosted by Bifrost Arts this past spring that the architecture around and in your worship space makes theological statements whether you like it or not. For instance, a tall, raised platform at the front the sanctuary with the Communion table positioned in the very back can make the theological statement that the Lord’s Table is so holy that its access must be limited and guarded. Or, think of a worship space in which the seating is arranged in a circle or semicircle around the leaders in worship in the middle. This can make a statement about the unity of the people of God in worship and the tearing down of sharp divisions between the congregation and the worship leaders. Or, think about the warehouse with a huge stage and lighting structure. It says, “we’re here to perform for you…sit back, relax, and enjoy the show.” Architecture tells the story of your theology of and priorities in worship. I want to share with you how we’ve chosen to let some recent changes to our sanctuary’s architecture inform our theology of worship.
Alex Mejias from High Street Hymns shares why churches characterized by contemporary worship should engage in liturgical music: 1. Liturgical music is biblical.2. Liturgical music helps us retell the Gospel-story.3. Liturgical music connects us to the Historic Church.4. Liturgical music connects us to the Global Church.5. Liturgical songs complement contemporary worship songs. Read the whole post! It’s worth it.
History is one of elitism’s greatest enemies. The more I study history, and particularly that of music, the more I realize that there is nothing new under the sun.
These days, it’s hip to do “old stuff” in worship. The late Robert Webber prophesied that this would happen; there is indeed a resurgence of interest in incorporating elements of historic and ancient Christian worship into our modern-day expression. This is part of why the rehymn movement is gaining popularity. While this is encouraging, we do not want to run the risk of doing old things simply because they’re cool. We want to do them for much more important, lasting reasons. We incorporate tradition into modern worship precisely that we might express ourselves not only as the modern church but as the historic church. Part of being the “one holy, catholic church” involves worshiping like we truly are catholic (i.e. universal). This universality includes not only space—incorporating elements of worship from our brothers and sisters in other parts of the world—but time. Christians in Ghana truly are my brothers and sisters. But the same can be said for fourth-century Christians in Mesopotamia.
Vol. 1: Make a SoundThis blog, in case you didn’t know, is especially interested in cataloguing trends among young Christians who are seeking creatively to wed the historic Christian faith with modern expression in worship and music. The Opiate Mass is a fantastic example of this, and yet they are doing more than providing a packaged expression of ancient-future worship. They are pursuing innovation in church music. The Opiate Mass isn’t quite a band. It isn’t quite a concert-experience. It … Read More
Part of the reason Lent exists is for us to confront our sin and idolatry head-on… “Tradition is the living faith of the dead; traditionalism is the dead faith of the living. Tradition lives in conversation with the past, while remembering where we are and when we are and that it is we who have to decide. Traditionalism supposes that nothing should ever be done for the first time, so all that is needed to solve any problem is to … Read More
Our church has been on an ongoing quest to integrate ministries and capitalize on one of the things many congregations don’t have—an age spread. We’ve come to the conclusion that ministry to one another and to the world will only be as effective as we move to a ministry/mission model which is: (1) less program-driven and more people-centered; (2) less segregated and more integrated and intergenerational. In a recent post, Pastor Tullian Tchividjian pointed out that their church opted for … Read More
Check out how one blogger described their experience of joining with Bifrost Arts in worship at the David Crowder Fantastical Church Music Conference. It’s reveals how far people like us have to go in the quest to bridge the worlds of historicity and liturgy with mainstream evangelical worship: Bitfrost Arts, a hymn-sing group from…well, I can’t remember if it was from Virginia or Missouri, but regardless, their sound was at the same time familiar and mysterious. Instead of relying on … Read More
You must read through the whole blog post (and track what he’s doing in the links) to realize what Jeremy Pierce is doing here. Outstanding. Pierce says and defends biblically in fewer words…and much more cleverly…what I’ve tried to say in many posts for well over a year. If this guy showed up at my doorstep, I’d kiss him. On the cheek. In a brotherly sort of way. With my wife watching. And my elders praying.