Worship Reading Goals for 2012

Zac HicksBook Reviews, Worship Resources, Worship Theology & Thought5 Comments

Worship leaders should be worship readers, so here’s my ambitious list for 2012 (off the heels of what I have read in 2011).  These are the books I want to focus on in the field of worship, but they won’t be the only things I read.  In fact, I want to take seriously C. S. Lewis’s admonishment to read one old book for every new one.  These are all relatively new books, and though I won’t read as many old books, I hope to read a few (Bradshaw, below, will open me up to some primary source material that will take me into the old stuff).  I also hope to read one or two works of classic literature and am open to recommendations.  Literature always stirs my soul and imagination and often helps me think about well-worn issues in new ways.


John Jefferson Davis, Worship and the Reality of God: An Evangelical Theology of Real Presence (2010)

I’ve actually read this one already, but I plan on revisiting it, outlining it, and imparting its wisdom to others.  In fact, our Worship, Music, & Arts team at Cherry Creek will be discussing it at our retreat this January.


Simon Chan, Liturgical Theology (2009)

I’m about half way through this book already, so it will likely be my first finish in 2012.  It is blowing my face off.  Its dialogue is so different from what evangelicals typically talk about, and it really lifts up a high view of gathered, corporate worship.  It is also heavily footnoted (which I love) and is therefore opening me up to a host of resources, especially to choice worship-thinkers outside of the evangelical tradition.


Jean-Jacques von Allmen, Worship: Its Theology and Practice (1965)

Both Davis and Chan (above) have cited this resource enough times that I feel it’s important enough to dig up.  It’s from a Reformed perspective, but it takes some surprising turns, I believe, such that it wouldn’t sound like the standard fare from Reformed worship writers (not that they’re bad!).


Edward Kilmartin, Christian Liturgy: Theology and Practice (1988)

A Roman Catholic liturgiologist who will especially inform me in the area of Worship and the Trinity.  Chan references this book a fair amount.


Paul Bradshaw, The Search for the Origins of Christian Worship: Sources and Methods for the Study of Early Liturgy (2002)

I’m looking forward to this book being a resource of primary material regarding early Christian worship and its roots in Jewish synagogue worship.


Hilaire Belloc, “On Song,” from On Everything (1910)

I honestly can’t remember why I’ve flagged this essay to read, except that something else I read referenced it and compelled me to check it out.  Free download from Google Books.


Paul Westermeyer, Te Deum: The Church and Music (1998)

This one won’t be read from cover to cover but will be referenced heavily, especially as it pertains to traditional worship music and liturgy.  Bruce Benedict at Cardiphonia turned me on to this resource.


John Williamson Nevin, The Mystical Presence: A Vindication of the Reformed or Calvinistic Doctrine of the Holy Eucharist (1846)

I’m interested in understanding my Presbyterian/Reformed tradition better when it comes to the theology of the Lord’s Supper, and many have said that Nevin’s work is seminal.


Honorable mention (or, books on my radar that may either gain or lose traction on the journey to making the 2012 list): 

Robert W. Jenson, Systematic Theology, vol. 2, The Works of God (2001)

Alexander Schmemann, For the Life of the World (1997)

Alexander Schmemann, Introduction to Liturgical Theology (1966)


Worship leaders & thinkers: What are you reading?  What will you read?  What has recently impacted your view, practice, and leadership of worship?  I’m very curious.

5 Comments on “Worship Reading Goals for 2012”

  1. you are killing me! I'll hope to get through 2 or 3 of those in 2012. oi.
    also add to that "Flickering Pixels" by Shane Hipps; "Worship on Earth as it is in Heaven" by Rory Noland, "hymnolody" by David Music,

  2. Te Deum leaves out all traces of folk music in church music tradition (and Westermeyer told me that was a valid criticism when I suggested such to him – which quite surprised me.) I didn't love the Bradshaw book, more about methodology than what you are wanting. I think Schmemann should move up higher on your list. If you have never read "The English Hymn" by Watson I highly recommend it.

  3. Kevin, I've heard you mention that criticism of Westermeyer before, and that's a good reminder to me as I crack that open. Given your observations, I may shift Bradshaw and Schmemann. I have read Benson's English Hymn, but not Watson's, so I'll definitely check it out. Thank you!

    Bruce, I've seen Noland and Hipps. When you read it, report on it and let me know what you think!

  4. Two thoughts:

    1) Belloc and Chesterton were great friends and often battled the prominent atheists of their day together. I think it was either Shaw or Russell who called them collectively, "Chesterbelloc."

    2) As for "classic lit" that can stir your thinking, it's never too late for Dickens. Just about any good read of his will be concurrent with many of the great English hymnwriters. "Hard Times" is a particularly excellent read given the Evangelical penchant to avoid suffering. There's also some good critique of hyper-rationalism in "Hard Times."

  5. Bravo, Zac! If you are going to read Schmemann, start with _For the Life of the World_, and then you might consider his book _The Eucharist_. It is his biblical-theological commentary on the whole Orthodox liturgy, which basically expands the eucharist section of _For the Life of the World_ into a whole book.

    I am just now finishing Kilmartin's book _The Eucharist and the West_. His criticisms of current Catholic liturgical theology are really quite strong, in ways that Reformed-learning people should really appreciate. I hope to read the book that you cite above next year.

    I would love to hear more about what you think of Chan. I assign this as one of the main books on the theology of worship in my Covenant Seminary worship classes.

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