Category : Liturgy, Music, Worship

(Telegraph) Tim Stanley–Putting a mini-golf course in a cathedral is an act of desecration

Emptiness can be rich with meaning. When the Romans captured Jerusalem in 63BC, or so says Tacitus, Pompey marched into the inner sanctum of the Jewish Temple and found it empty. No idols, no treasures, just God. To be in His presence was the greatest bounty.

If Pompey besieged Rochester Cathedral today, what would he find inside? A miniature golf course. No joke. Located in the nave, this summer installation consists of nine holes with models of bridges – justified by the kind of silliness that parts of the Anglican Church have become famous for. “We hope,” says the Rev Canon Rachel Phillips, “while playing adventure golf, visitors will reflect on the bridges that need to be built in their own lives and in our world today.” Because contemplating the brotherhood of man is what we all do when playing mini-golf at the sea side. I believe Karl Marx composed Das Kapital at a Butlins in Skegness. No mean feat when trying to putt with one hand and eat a raspberry ripple with the other.

But Rochester isn’t alone! If Pompey’s pagan army is travelling north, it’ll feel right at home at Peterborough Cathedral, where they’re doing “Creative Yoga” under a giant model of the planet Earth, titled “Gaia”. Or kick off your sandals at Norwich Cathedral which is installing a 50ft helter skelter that “aims to give people the chance to experience the Cathedral in an entirely new way and open up conversations about faith.”

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), Entertainment, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Sports

(C of E) The Importance of Collective Worship in Schools

From there:

Following reports of a judicial review granted by the High Court, the Church of England’s Chief Education Officer, Nigel Genders writes:
“We live at a time when children feel besieged by social media, weighed down by pressure and report poor mental health. Collective worship offers ten minutes in a day for children to pause and explore the big existential questions such as ‘Who am I?’ ‘Why am I here?’ and ‘How then should I live?”
“Offering this in the context of authentic Christian worship is not ‘religious indoctrination’ but a simple chance for children of all faiths and none to develop spiritually and gain perspective in an otherwise crowded day.

“There is much evidence of the value of collective worship to children and young people which is why thousands of community schools also have strong partnerships with local churches and faith groups. What happens in schools must be evidence-based and should not be in response to secular pressure group campaigns.”

(From a letter to The Times, 30/7/19)

Posted in Children, Church of England (CoE), Education, Liturgy, Music, Worship

(CC) Samuel Wells–Why did I go to a charismatic worship service in an arena?

A close friend has a category of engagements she calls “Yes damn”: things you said yes to long ago and as they approach you can’t recall why you’re going or what they want and you’ve got a bunch else to do. So it was that I arrived in the countryside of the European continent for a convention of charismatic Christians. Many had raised their hands to come: 1,300 people in all. The question to which I couldn’t recall the answer was, Why was I there?

My first reaction was that maybe I came to rediscover the 1970s. The music was antediluvian—we even sang “Give Me Oil in My Lamp,” mothballed since the dawn of time. Singers were hugging microphones and swaying like they’d just watched an Abba concert on YouTube. I’d been invited to preach, but I hadn’t been warned that the worship service would go on for three and a half hours.

When the time came, I said my usual stuff. Then the real action began. The 30 or so clergy paired up to offer anointing, laying on of hands, and prayers for healing to all comers. I wanted to say, “Look, I know how to do this stuff. Tuck it into the time it takes to distribute communion. And don’t offer a general invitation to a thousand people on an emotional, sweaty night in a large arena. You’ll be there for a week.” But I kept quiet.

This was new for me.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Parish Ministry, Spirituality/Prayer

(CT) Mark Galli–The Temptations of Evangelical Worship

In the last decade or so, evangelical congregations have woken up to the centrality of praise and adoration as Scripture commands. One of the great developments of our time is how we worship. “Praise choruses” and contemporary worship music, for all their limitations, aim our hearts and minds in the direction of God. One does not even have to be taught to lift your face or raise your arms as you sing these songs, as the songs themselves often drive one upward to seek and praise God. One has to be a spiritual miser not to recognize how such music has helped the church worship God.

Yet the temptation of the horizontal is with us always, and it comes in many disguises in our worship. Worship leaders—as they themselves often admit—are tempted to take cues from Finney’s Lectures on Revivals. Every worship leader worth his or her salt knows how to manage the emotions of the congregation, moving them from quiet devotion to raucous praise or from bass-throbbing adulation to whisper-quiet meditation. We don’t have to deny that, despite sometimes obvious manipulation, we’ve been touched by God in such services. But it is a constant temptation to replace God with technique, to seek not the Holy of Holies but mostly devotional exhilaration.

That is to say, many weeks what we mostly want is for worship to give us a good spiritual feeling. I suspect that by our inattention to what we’re singing. We sing various choruses that say, “Bring down your glory” and “show us your face.” But we do not know what we’re asking for. People in the Bible who actually encountered God’s glory fall on the ground in fear. For example, after the miracle of the fishes, Peter knows he has seen glory and that he is in the presence of the Glorious One. He doesn’t give God an ovation. He doesn’t weep with joy. He falls on his knees, begging Jesus to depart from him. The glory of Jesus has made it clear to him that he is a sinful man (Luke 5).

Read it all.

Posted in Evangelicals, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Theology

(AI) ACNA Book of Common Prayer banned in Quincy

After much consideration, prayer and consultation with my fellow bishops, clergy from our diocese and others I have decided the Diocese of Quincy will continue to use Common Worship. I have come to this decision for many reasons both theological and practical.

Read it all.

Posted in Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), Liturgy, Music, Worship

A Prayer for the Feast Day of James Weldon Johnson

Eternal God, we give thanks for the gifts that thou didst bestow upon thy servant James Weldon Johnson: a heart and voice to praise thy Name in verse. As he gave us powerful words to glorify you, may we also speak with joy and boldness to banish hatred from thy creation, in the Name of Jesus Christ; who with thee and the Holy Spirit livest and reignest, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Posted in Church History, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Race/Race Relations, Spirituality/Prayer

(ABC Aus) Hong Kong Christians turn ‘Sing Hallelujah to the Lord’ into unlikely protest anthem

In Hong Kong there have long been links between the pro-democracy activists and in particular the Catholic Church, which has a decades-long unresolved dispute with China’s Government over the right to ordain bishops.

The city’s most prominent young political activist, Joshua Wong, is a devout Christian, as are many older members of the pan-democratic camp.

“Some Christians, including me, are afraid that if the extradition bill is passed, it could affect freedom of religion in Hong Kong and freedom of religious activities,” Mr [Edwin] Chow said.

He believes it is this fear that has mobilised a larger-than-normal turn-out among the city’s Christians, who number around 900,000 — or about 12 per cent of the population.

Read it all.

Posted in China, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Music, Politics in General, Religion & Culture

(Wordwise Hymns) Robert Cottrill on the hymn ‘Jesus Shall Reign Where’er the Sun’

But what if a church sang only the Old Testament Psalms. Pastor, theologian, and hymn writer, Isaac Watts grew up in a church that believed only the Psalms should be sung in the services, no newer hymns. But he argued that by so doing they were missing a great deal of New Testament truth. With the church’s permission, he began writing some hymns for the congregation, eventually producing about six hundred of them.

So far, so good. But when a hymn writer takes an Old Testament text and gives it a New Testament meaning, that involves more than merely explaining the initial passage of Scripture and drawing life principles from it. It requires expressing an opinion about how the New Testament relates to the passage. Does it really say what you’re trying to make it say?

Watt’s hymn Jesus Shall Reign is a case in point. He used the latter part of Psalm 72, and turned it into a hymn about Jesus. The psalm is a prayer of David for his son, Solomon, when He ascended to the throne. Watts felt this could also be a picture of the spread of the gospel today. Perhaps it can, in part.

Read it all.

Posted in Church History, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Theology

Remembering Especially the Charleston 9 who died 4 years ago today in the Mother Emanuel Church Shooting

Posted in * South Carolina, Adult Education, America/U.S.A., Death / Burial / Funerals, History, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Movies & Television, Parish Ministry, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture, Violence

A Hymn from Ephrem of Edessa on his Feast Day–From God Christ’s Deity Came Forth

From there:

From God Christ’s deity came forth,
his manhood from humanity;
his priesthood from Melchizedek,
his royalty from David’s tree:
praised be his Oneness.

He joined with guests at wedding feast,
yet in the wilderness did fast;
he taught within the temple’s gates;
his people saw him die at last:
praised be his teaching.

The dissolute he did not scorn,
nor turn from those who were in sin;
he for the righteous did rejoice
but bade the fallen to come in:
praised be his mercy.

He did not disregard the sick;
to simple ones his word was given;
and he descended to the earth
and, his work done, went up to heaven:
praised be his coming.

Who then, my Lord, compares to you?
The Watcher slept, the Great was small,
the Pure baptized, the Life who died,
the King abased to honor all:
praised be your glory.

by Ephrem of Edessa, translated by John Howard Rhys, adapted and altered by F Bland Tucker, (Episcopal) Hymnbook 1982.

Posted in Christology, Church History, Liturgy, Music, Worship

(CEN) Peter Mullen–Music to end by

We’ve known for a long time that some funny things go on at funerals, and some of the funniest are the musical choices. When I was ordained – just after the Norman Conquest – the favourites were such as O God our help in ages past and Abide with me. But in a survey published a couple of weeks ago, these stalwarts were shown to have been supplanted by a pop version of Bohemian Rhapsody and Freddie Mercury’s These are the days of our lives. Other popular choices were Robbie Williams’ Angels and the anthem of the Liverpool Kop You’ll never walk alone.

Though I can’t imagine why any Christian should request John Lennon’s nihilistic doggerel which goes:

Imagine there’s no heaven

It’s easy if you try,

No hell below us

Above us only sky

Imagine all the people living for today

That recent survey revealed that many – “mourners” doesn’t seem the right word somehow – want “something to make us giggle” when we are saying good bye – or hopefully au revoir – to our loved ones. An old lady in the parish of St Mary, Oldham, where I was once curate, asked for George Formby’s When I’m cleaning windows and a colleague told me of someone else who had If I knew you were coming I’d have baked a cake. So that’s what the messianic banquet is all about, is it?

I recall one particularly hilarious apocalypse at the crematorium – I’d better not say which crematorium in order to protect the innocent. I was warned that when you pushed the button at the end of the service there would be a nasty surprise. The mechanism was old and crabby. I pushed the button for the coffin to start its mechanical journey through the curtains and into the beyond. There was a great CHUNG! And everyone looked up, startled. But that little disturbance was only for starters…

The coffin was supposed to pass through the curtains and on to a trolley placed in the anteroom by the two cheerful necrophiles who acted as vergers. Supposed to. Only this time they had forgotten.

So off goes Uncle Fred through the crack of doom. And suddenly there’s an almighty CRASH! Followed by the loud utterance of two words from what I suppose we must call the other side – the second word was hell! The first word is altogether unmentionable! The congregation were paralysed, no doubt thinking that those two words were Uncle Fred’s first disapproving comments on the life of the world to come. I went behind. What a scene: imagine the dead Scrooge in his nightshirt, the vergers’ copy of The Sun having fallen across his face.

Read it all (subscription).

Posted in Church of England (CoE), Death / Burial / Funerals, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Parish Ministry

(Vatican Radio) Our Lord’s Ascension : a musical meditation

As you can imagine, there’s no shortage of fine choral music to celebrate the feast of Our Lord’s Ascension says music historian Monsignor Philip Whitmore. He suggests we listen is a piece of 20th century organ music written as an extended meditation and an uplifting motet for double choir by English composer Sir Charles Villiers Stanford.

Read and listen to it all.

Posted in Ascension, Liturgy, Music, Worship

More Music for Easter 2019–Pilgrim’s Hymn – Stephen Paulus

Lyrics

Even before we call on Your name
To ask You, O God,
When we seek for the words to glorify You,
You hear our prayer;
Unceasing love, O unceasing love,
Surpassing all we know.

Glory to the father,
and to the Son,
And to the Holy Spirit.

Even with darkness sealing us in,
We breathe Your name,
And through all the days that follow so fast,
We trust in You;
Endless Your grace, O endless Your grace,
Beyond all mortal dream.

Both now and forever,
And unto ages and ages,
Amen

.

Posted in Liturgy, Music, Worship

A NYT Review of Jennifer Berry Hawes’ New Book on the Charleston 9 and the Mother Emmanuel Massacre

Hawes is a poised writer and a patient observer who trains her focus on the present. She gestures briefly to Charleston’s role as the epicenter of the nation’s slave trade (“as the Civil War approached almost three in four white families here had owned slaves”) and the long history of attacks on black churches, including Emanuel, which was first burned to the ground in 1822. Her primary interest is in the lives of the survivors and the families of the victims, “the people who will live this story forever.”

For most, trauma begat trauma: health problems, even sudden deaths. One widower lost 60 pounds and became unable to return to work. Bitter divisions flared. Eleven months after the shooting, Sharon Risher and Nadine Collier, two daughters of Ethel Lance, one of Roof’s victims, couldn’t even agree on a headstone for their mother. When Risher finally had one erected over the grave, Collier installed her own version directly in front of it. At one point, according to the author, Risher felt it was more likely that she might forgive Dylann Roof than her sister.

Even those who fought to return to some semblance of normalcy found that their lives had become uncomfortably public. Private people felt forced into activism and advocacy even as the shootings had left them adrift — and they felt spiritually abandoned by their church (which itself became mired in controversy after donations went missing).

Roof remains a shadowy figure in the narrative (see the journalist and critic Rachel Kaadzi Ghansah’s Pulitzer Prize-winning profile for a more detailed look at his life and radicalization). He is not even named at first, referred to only as “a young white man, lean of frame…”

Read it all.

Posted in * South Carolina, Books, Death / Burial / Funerals, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Parish Ministry, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture, Spirituality/Prayer, Violence

(Premier) Durham church criticised for offering to cover crosses and host Muslim prayers

A Darlington church is coming under fire after offering to cover up crosses and allow Muslims to say prayers in its building.

St Matthew and St Luke’s had initially invited members of the Muslim community for an event next month to mark Ramadan.

It also offered different rooms to allow segregated worship for men and women.

Upon hearing about the event the Diocese of Durham intervened and told the church it must not hold Islamic prayers in the church building.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Inter-Faith Relations, Islam, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Muslim-Christian relations, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Spirituality/Prayer

More Music for Easter 2019–Sunrise at Easter

Carl Nielsen – Overture Helios – Danish National Symphony Orchestra

Posted in Easter, Liturgy, Music, Worship

Still More Music for Easter–Keith Green – Easter Song

Listen it all.

Posted in Easter, Liturgy, Music, Worship

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Elisabeth Cruciger

Pour out thy Spirit upon all of thy sons and daughters, Almighty God, that like thy servant Elisabeth Cruciger our lips may praise thee, our lives may bless thee, and our worship may give thee glory; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Posted in Church History, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Spirituality/Prayer

More Music for Easter 2019–How Can I keep from Singing–Audrey Assad

Lyrics:

I hear the sweet though far off hymn
That hails a new creation
Through all the tumult and the strife
I hear the music ringing
It finds an echo in my soul
How can I keep from singing

What though my joys and comforts die
The Lord my Savior liveth
What though the darkness gather round
Songs in the night He giveth
No storm can shake my inmost calm
While to that refuge clinging
Since Christ is Lord of Heav’n and earth
How can I keep from singing

I lift mine eyes the cloud grows thin
I see the blue above it
And day by day this pathway smoothes
Since first I learned to love it
The peace of Christ makes fresh my heart
A fountain ever springing
All things are mine since I am His
How can I keep from singing

Posted in Easter, Liturgy, Music, Worship

(CNN) Houses of worship worry: Who’s next?

A massacre in New Zealand on jumah, the Muslim weekly communal prayer.

Suicide bombings in Sri Lankan churches on Easter, the holiest day of the Christian calendar.
On Saturday, another attack inside a sanctuary, this one on the final day of Passover, a sacred time commemorating Jews’ escape from violence and oppression in ancient Egypt.
Saturday’s shooting at Congregation Chabad in Poway, California, came six months to the day after the worst anti-Semitic violence in American history, when an accused white supremacist slaughtered 11 Jews inside a Pittsburgh synagogue.
After Saturday’s attack, Chabad, an Orthodox Jewish movement, addressed the recent spate of sacrilegious violence, of which it was the latest victim:
“The fact that these G-dless acts have multiplied of late underscores with even greater urgency the critical need for proper moral education for our youth, rooted in the belief in a Supreme Being — Whose Eye that Sees and Ear that Hears should preclude anyone from devaluing the life of another human being.”

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Liturgy, Music, Worship, Police/Fire, Religion & Culture, Terrorism, Violence

More Music for Easter 2019–Come, Ye Faithful, Raise the Strain

Lyrics:

1 Come, ye faithful, raise the strain
of triumphant gladness;
God hath brought his Israel
into joy from sadness;
loosed from Pharaoh’s bitter yoke
Jacob’s sons and daughters;
led them with unmoistened foot
through the Red Sea waters.

2 ‘Tis the spring of souls today;
Christ hath burst his prison,
and from three days’ sleep in death
as a sun hath risen;
all the winter of our sins,
long and dark, is flying
from his light, to whom we give
laud and praise undying.

3 Now the queen of seasons, bright
with the day of splendor,
with the royal feast of feasts,
comes its joy to render;
comes to glad Jerusalem,
who with true affection
welcomes in unwearied strains
Jesus’ resurrection.

4 Neither might the gates of death,
nor the tomb’s dark portal,
nor the watchers, nor the seal
hold thee as a mortal:
but today amidst thine own
thou didst stand, bestowing
thine own peace, which evermore
passeth human knowing.

Posted in Easter, Liturgy, Music, Worship

More Music for Easter 2019: O Radiant Dawn – James MacMillan


Lyrics:

O Radiant Dawn, O Radiant Dawn, O Radiant Dawn
Splendour of Eternal Light
Sun of Justice, Sun of Justice, Sun of Justice
Come, come, come, come, come,
come shine on those who dwell in darkness And the shadow of death

Isaiah had prophesied,
‘The people who walked in darkness have seen a great Light.
Upon those who dwelt in the land of gloom a light has shone’

O Radiant Dawn, O Radiant Dawn, O Radiant Dawn
Splendour of Eternal Light
Sun of Justice, Sun of Justice, Sun of Justice
Come, come, come, come, come,
come shine on those who dwell in darkness And the shadow of death

Amen, amen, amen, amen, amen, amen

Posted in Easter, Liturgy, Music, Worship

More Music for Easter 2019 ‘In Paradisum_140801_1429’ by Arlan Sunnarborg

Listen to it all.

Posted in Easter, Liturgy, Music, Worship

An Easter Carol

Tomb, thou shalt not hold Him longer;
Death is strong, but Life is stronger;
Stronger than the dark, the light;
Stronger than the wrong, the right.
Faith and Hope triumphant say,
Christ will rise on Easter-Day.

While the patient earth lies waking,
Till the morning shall be breaking,
Shuddering ‘neath the burden dread
Of her Master, cold and dead,
Hark! she hears the angels say,
Christ will rise on Easter-Day.
And when sunrise smites the mountains,
Pouring light from heavenly fountains,
Then the earth blooms out to greet
Once again the blessed feet;
And her countless voices say,
Christ has risen on Easter-Day.

Up and down our lives obedient
Walk, dear Christ, with footsteps radiant,
Till those garden lives shall be
Fair with duties done for Thee;
And our thankful spirits say,
Christ arose on Easter-Day.

–Phillips Brooks (1835-1893)

Posted in Easter, Liturgy, Music, Worship, TEC Bishops

More Music For Easter 2019–Since By Man Came Death from Handel’s Messiah

Take the time to listen to it all from the Oxford Philomusica.

Posted in Easter, Liturgy, Music, Worship

Still More Music for Easter 2019–The Lord is Risen Indeed! William Billings

Listen to it all and you can read more about it, including finding the lyrics, at Lent and Beyond.

Posted in Easter, Liturgy, Music, Worship

More Music for Easter 2019–Johnny Cash – Ain’t No Grave

Posted in Easter, Liturgy, Music, Worship

Music for Easter 2019–Easter Song, 2nd Chapter of Acts

Watch and listen to it all from the original writers of the song.

Posted in Easter, Liturgy, Music, Worship

A Hymn for Holy Saturday: O sorrow deep

O sorrow deep!
Who would not weep
with heartfelt pain and sighing!
God the Father’s only Son
in the tomb is lying.

The Paschal Lamb,
like Isaac’s ram,
in blood was offered for us,
pouring out his life
that he might to life restore us.

Blest shall they be
eternally
who ponder in their weeping
that the glorious Prince of Life
should in death be sleeping,

O Jesus blest,
my help and rest,
with tears I pray thee, hear me:
now, and even unto death,
dearest Lord, be near me.

The Words are from Johann Rist, 1641; they are translated by Charles Winfred Douglas, 1940

Posted in Holy Week, Liturgy, Music, Worship

Music for Holy Saturday–Spiegel im Spiegel for Cello and Piano (Arvo Pärt)

Posted in Holy Week, Liturgy, Music, Worship