Worship Leader Magazine recently published an interview of David Crowder shortly after the release of their final album, Give Us Rest or (A Requiem Mass in C [The Happiest of All Keys]). (Even the title carries with it our modern generation’s characteristic mixture of reverence and irreverence, being a requiem with a not-so-subtle reference to Spinal Tap…I know that’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but it sure is mine.)
While perhaps most of Crowder’s albums are not “worship albums” proper, since the early 2000s, the DC*B has been on the leading edge of where modern worship leaders looked for guidance in song and practice. The verdict is not out, but there are many indicators that modern worship is hungry for a greater sense of rootedness in the Christian worship traditions of the past, a higher ecclesiology (a more robust view of the church), and a more meaningful engagement with things like the Lord’s Supper. Just look at some of these statements by Crowder:
“What’s majestic and beautiful about a lot of the older liturgy that we’ve maybe misplaced is that that it feels transcendent. Many times the liturgy was like a journey. You couldn’t just pop in for half the service and get everything. You know, you can pop in a lot of contemporary services and not be very confused by any of it. That’s not necessarily a bad thing but, it’s like the show Lost. The reason that show was so attractive was because there was an exploration that it demanded of you. You couldn’t understand everything that was really happening. I think there’s something very attractive about worship where everything is hinging on mystery, and it’s a difficult thing to put your head around. It’s more complex.”
“There are so many college students that are attached to what we’re doing,” says Crowder. “And the thing I love about where they are in life is that they want desperately to live for something bigger than themselves.”
T. David Gordon, in his book Why Johnny Can’t Sing Hymns (which I have reviewed quite critically here), offers a critique of culture’s obsession with “the now.” He aptly labels it “contemporaneity as a value.” I think he would be pleased with indications of forward progress by folks like Crowder when they say,
“And the younger generation is finding that this present moment is not sufficient enough. That we need something that’s bigger than just ‘the present.’ And we need words that say something that’s bigger than the present. But we cant’ look into the future, so we look backwards and pull from what has already been said. In doing so we also realize that we’re not alone in this present moment, but in fact our history is with us.”
Interestingly, the band’s desire with this album at the close of their art-making as the David Crowder Band, was to put the final punctuation mark on the Lord’s Supper:
The David Crowder*Band has chosen their final record, Give Us Rest (A Requiem Mass in C [The Happiest of All Keys]), to represent their goodbye, “And it’s all centered around the Eucharist,” finishes Crowder. “And so we thought, man, this is a great place to finish things up—to just come back around this. I guess the period at the end of the sentence would be Christ and his sacrifice, and his in-dwelling.”
People who are quick to lump modern worship into one category of hopeless, a-theological, a-historical now-ism need to take a closer look. There’s something profound happening. Could it be that the contemporaneity of contemporary worship is beginning to run its course? Could it be that we are on the road toward healthier balance of historical rootedness and biblical reflection?
The article is worth a read, even if, in parts, it seems that its author either strains to understand the significance of what’s going on or uncomfortably flicks away what appears to be un-evangelical about the trends.