Posts Tagged ‘MUSIC’



Lil Buck and Yo Yo Ma

For anyone who’s been tempted to pigeon hole another person or group of people (read: this is for all of us), here’s a little something that will give you reason to pause.





Sing edited by Julie Tennent

Sing, edited by Julie Tennent


Edited by Julie Tennent

Each year Asbury Theological Seminary produces a daily scripture reader. This year’s edition, Sing, begins February 6, 2012 and runs through the Day of Pentecost (Feb-May). Edited by Julie Tennent, Sing teaches us to sing our way through the Psalms as we journey to the cross and onward to the outpouring of the Holy Spirit.

Tennent has put together a masterful  collection of Psalms with singable melodies and accompanied by daily readings which give deeper insight into the psalter. Psalms were written to be sung and this is a perfect opportunity to rediscover the practice. This resource is being used by large and small communities alike to orient their lives around reading a common text. It also works well for individual or small group use. There will also be a creative range of online features via Asbury’s mobile reader app.

Click here for an index of singing the Psalms.

You can download a PDF version of Sing for just $.50 at Asbury’s Seedbed website

Click here to read Julie’s thoughts about using hymns for worship.

Jason Vickers

The most frequent question I get from seminary students these days goes something like this: what is emerging worship, and why are so many folks making such a fuss over it? Like so many other movements in theology or worship, emerging worship can be a little difficult to define.  Indeed, what counts as emerging worship can vary from place to place. So in what follows, I don’t so much want to define emerging worship as to make some general observations about what gave rise to it and about the ways in which some people are reacting to it. Insofar as people’s negative reaction has to do with the media or forms used in emerging worship, I want to issue a reminder: we Christians have used an amazing diversity of media and forms to worship our God across the centuries. In other words, I think it is important to locate our conversations about emerging worship against the long horizon that is the history of Christian worship.


One way to think about emerging worship is to see it as a response to two of the chief criticisms of contemporary worship. First, critics of contemporary worship often argue that contemporary worship is theologically shallow. Second, critics of contemporary worship often observe that the use of digital media and technology in contemporary worship means that there are few discernible differences between the church’s worship and life outside of worship. For example, the music in worship is not discernibly different than secular music. Similarly, the power point presentation accompanying the service resembles the power point presentations taking place in the corporate boardrooms in which so many people are stuck during the week.


In response to these criticisms, architects of emerging worship are seeking to recover more traditional theological language and to create a worship ethos that is noticeably different from secular concerts and corporate boardrooms. Thus, while they still encourage casual dress, they are dialing back on the use of technology, and they are replacing high voltage spotlights with the dim light of candles. They are also developing more theologically sophisticated music, and they are working to recover lost liturgical practices from the ancient church, including the liturgical calendar, confession of the ancient creeds, prayers of repentance, the stations of the cross, and the like. Many emerging churches are emphasizing natural symbols and images over all things digital. They are using wood panel icons, a common wood or clay cup for communion, and ashes to make the sign of the cross on their foreheads during Ash Wednesday services.


The backlash against emerging worship is hardly surprising. In the turn to symbols, to “ritual,” and to ancient liturgical practices, many people see a turn to something else altogether, namely, Roman Catholicism or Eastern Orthodoxy. In other words, they see an abandoning of what they regard as classical Protestantism. Others see in the dim, candle-lit worship spaces something sinister and evil, a kind of dark or “new age” spirituality. They are sure that the emerging church is actually the undoing of the church, the proverbial last nail in the Western church’s coffin.


We need to notice what is happening here. We are spending a great deal of energy these days worrying about the forms and media of worship. We are wrestling with whether one type of music is more appropriate than another for worship. We are debating the merits of liturgical dance. We aren’t sure what to do if our church substitutes candle light for electricity. We are questioning whether Protestants can make use of iconography without giving way to idolatry. And on and on it goes.


In the midst of all our anxiety, we need to stand back and recall that we Christians have been worshipping our God for a very, very long time. Across the centuries and throughout the world, we have employed an amazing diversity of forms and media in our worship. We have employed every musical instrument imaginable, from organs and pianos, to harps, bagpipes, drums, and a variety of horns and stringed instruments. We have used an astonishing array of music styles, ranging from chant to drumming, classical music, hymns, southern gospel, black gospel, and hip-hop. We have used an amazing variety of sacred art, including sculpture, wood panel paintings, frescoes, and kitsch. We have worshipped our God in bright, sun-lit sanctuaries and in mysterious, dark spaces. We have celebrated and praised our God in everything from caves to cathedrals. We have worshipped our God at midnight and in the wee hours of the morning. We have used the lectionary, and we have preached extemporaneously. We have worn every conceivable kind of clothing, and we have stripped naked for our baptism.


In the light of the history of Christian worship, we need to make a very simple decision. We need to decide whether we are going to operate with a miserly or a generous Pneumatology. Like prayer, all true worship originates with the Holy Spirit. Thus we must decide whether we really want to confine the work of the Holy Spirit to favored liturgical forms and media or whether we are going to confess together that the Holy Spirit is free to work or not to work, to speak or not to speak, to be present or not to be present regardless of the forms or media that we choose to employ. We must decide whether we really want to confine the Spirit to hymns, or whether we will be open to the presence and work of the Spirit through gospel songs, praise choruses, or Byzantine chant. We must decide whether we really want to claim that the Holy Spirit is afraid of the dark, or whether we will be open to the moving of the Holy Spirit in dimly lit worship spaces.

This weekend was wonderful – great Easter celebration, family all home at the same time – no agenda. Lots to be thankful for.

My son, Nathan, is a musician & very creative. While he was home he played us a piece he’d created on the computer. I’m not sure if you’d really call it a musical piece (although that’s bound to spark some philosophical discussions about what constitutes a musical piece). It’s more like performance art & the depth of meaning to it was really amazing (I know I’m biased, but really, it was very cool).
As I was listening I wondered if Nate realized all the levels there were to this thing. That’s the way it is with any kind of art really – music, visual, literary, whatever – all kinds of different levels of experience. The creators of the work put themselves into it, what they want to say or project, what they hope people will get out of it, all of that. Then they put the piece out there & it takes on a life of its own – people who interact with it come at it from different places, with different expectations & experiences. That’s what’s so cool about it.
My father’s been a prolific writer during his career in ministry & a while back his publisher put together a little volume of sayings collected from his writing over the years. It’s called Let Me Say That Again – a line he’s said at least once in every sermon he’s ever preached.
Nate has always loved that little book & a lot of the sayings provide the content of his piece. His choices were significant, here are a few examples:

Most of us prefer the hell of a predictable situation rather than risk the joy of an unpredictable one.

On the road of life one of the most serious violations is to ignore the signal to stop, look & listen.

Life is life by the choices we make.

There’s never a road so long that there’s not a bend in it.

We should never let yesterday rob us of tomorrow.

We know that all of us are going to die. But do we live as though we know it?

The measure of life is whether you’re fully used up when you die.

It’s impossible to adequately describe the piece, but it’s worth trying. Several different voices say the various phrases as a range of other sounds rise & fall. Sometimes the voices are prominent, sometimes the sounds take over; sometimes the voices echo or overlap; sometimes they’re louder or softer.

As I listened, I felt like I was moving – like life was moving & swirling all around me – like the noise of the world was coming at me from all sides. And in the midst of it all were these voices – sometimes louder, sometimes softer, sometimes clear, sometimes muffled – but always with a message. And as I listened I wondered if I was missing it. There were times when I had to try really hard to hear the message; & there were times when I couldn’t get it at all because the sound of the ‘world’ got in the way.

It was a powerful experience, hearing this piece. Not just because as a mother I was proud that my son had created something so provocative; but because this piece provided me with a metaphor & left me a question.

The world swirls around us, loud & blaring, filled with its own language & messages. And the church is in the midst of it, but how much? The voice of the church is heard, but how much? Is it loud enough? Or is it an echo? Is it understandable? Or is it garbled by the competing sounds of the world? The world’s pace is rapid, life is moving. As the body of Christ, are we keeping up? Or are we a relic from a distant time? The motion of the world is relentless, an unfeeling churning & lurching. Are we providing safe haven from that relentless, faceless motion? Or do we contribute to that cold churning & lurching despite what we profess?

Nice questions for contemplation. But as a Christ follower, what am I going to do? How am I to be in the midst that loud & swirling motion? What’s my next step?