Your Blog Steward

My photo
Omaha, Nebraska, United States
I am more and more convinced that most congregations die from a staggering lack of imagination. Let's change that. Drop me a line on email or leave a comment if you have thoughts on God, Jesus, congregations, the church or whatever.... I look forward to our conversations.

Monday, September 13, 2010

What's up with music in worship?

Yesterday I spent some time worshiping with a community here in Omaha, NE that used a jazz quartet for its worship music leaders. It was fun, and good...and I'm wondering why I don't see more of that? In other words, why is music a) so important to worship; and b) not adequately done (specially in places where it is considered important?) Here are some worship music experiences I remember...

in 1991 hearing a young man perform "Knockin' on Heaven's Door" as the prelude to his grandmother's funeral (she was 94, and would have been in her sixties when Dylan wrote that song...I had trouble believing she was a fan.)

in 1993 joining a band for worship in Lockport, IL where the oldest member was 17, and trading guitar riffs and bass runs during the offertory music (young or newer musicians are my exception to the "adequate" rule...in their case I advocate full-bore experimentation!)

in 1995 learning a wonderful new liturgy on the organ from a gifted musician (Frank Stoldt), and being able to hear for the first time people actually enjoying praise to God

in 1999 having a congregation learn music in order to experience liturgy without words and notes having to be available to participate (this should be the goal of all worship...why is it a requirement to be able to read in order to worship in so many congregations? If you are a worship leader ask yourself this question: if someone can't read, could they get something out of this worship?)

in 2003 being exposed to another gifted leader (Craig Schweitzer) who is able to bring musical subtlety into worship (Craig is being ordained as a pastor in a few days, and I wish him godspeed)

in 2008 having the current musicians sing and play songs they like (hence our Prairie Table months of Eagles and Beatles tunes last year), and what a diference that makes in learning how to share passions...

There has been-- in my almost 20 years of ministry now-- a lot of good music, some great, some absolutely sublime...and some...well, not-so-much. To all the musicians, leaders, planners, and congregations who have made worship a key part of my life, I thank you, and pray for your continued ministry...as a famous church musician often noted soli Deo gloria!

And what are some of your memories of music and worship in your life?

3 comments:

Pam Brewer said...

Singing all the verses and the chorus 7 times to a song with 7 or 8 verses is a form of torture.

Scott Frederickson said...

Ah, the true test of faith...especially seven verses with an unsingable tune!

gail said...

I remember a John Ylvisaker litergy we used in worship at Christus Rex, the Lutheran campus center at the University of North Dakota. It awakened me!