music

Queen Elizabeth I on Sixteenth Century Blended Worship

Today's Worship Quote comes from the middle of the 16th century, a time of great transition in the history of Christian worship. It appears that the church leaders were trying to achieve a sort of "blending" of worship styles and traditions. Sound familiar?

SIXTEENTH CENTURY BLENDED WORSHIP
Meanwhile in England, the Established Church substituted a vernacular prose translation for the Vulgate [Latin] Psalms. This was authorized in the three Prayer Books and was ordered to be read through in the course of a month during Matins and Evensong. Together with this official usage, there grew up the extra-liturgical custom of singing a metrical psalm before and after the prescribed order. This custom, which may possibly be traced to the influence of the returned exiles, appears to have obtained official sanction: for in her Injunctions to the clergy in 1559, Queen Elizabeth directed:

"For the comforting as such as delight in music, it may be permitted that at the beginning or end of Common Prayer, either at Morning or Evening, there may be sung a hymn or such like song to the praise of Almighty God, in the best melody and music that may be devised, having respect that the sentence of the hymn be understood and perceived."

- Queen Elizabeth I, quoted in Horton Davies The Worship of the English Puritans (Soli Deo Gloria Publications, 1997).


CHIP’S THOUGHTS

In this case, of course, the hymns and metrical Psalms were considered less formal than the prescribed Prayer Book worship.

Have a great week!


To learn more about Chip Stam and his Worship Quote of the Week, click below.

Furr and Price on Music in Worship

Today's Worship Quote is another from The Dialogue of Worship: Creating Space for Revelation and Response. The authors develop the metaphor of "dialogue" as they explore the dynamics of biblical worship in the Christian church. This week, a note about the contribution music makes (or doesn't make) to the dialogue of worship.

MUSIC IN WORSHIP
"The primary functions of music in worship are to facilitate the dialogue and to contribute to that dialogue. Though aesthetic delight, personal enjoyment, and opportunity for a performer to share a talent may be by-products of the use of music in worship, none of these should be a primary purpose.  Unless music can make a meaningful contribution to the dialogue of worship, it should be omitted.  It would be better for music to be absent than for it to be an interruption or distraction."

- Gary A. Furr and Milburn Price, The Dialogue of Worship: Creating Space for Revelation and Response (Macon, GA: Smyth & Helwys, 1998).


CHIP'S THOUGHTS

I highly recommend this book to pastors, church musicians and anyone who plans, leads, or participates in worship in a local church.

Have a great week!


To learn more about Chip Stam and his Worship Quote of the Week, click below.

Best on Passion for God

Today's Worship Quote is another from Harold Best's book Music Through the Eyes of Faith.

PASSION FOR GOD
Being moved by music is secondary to worshiping God. The Spirit is always to be free to direct our worship, whether the music moves us or not. It is only when being moved by music is coupled to a preceding passion for God that we are truly moved. Behind all of this is the Lord's continuous invitation to come and to continue worship. God wills that all of us worship him. Behind all of these secondary movings - music, art, drama, dance, architecture, atmosphere, and environment - is the primary mover, whose most quiet call and gentlest reminder speak louder than our most elaborate art pieces.

- Harold Best, Music Through the Eyes of Faith (San Francisco, CA: Harper Collins, 1993), 152.


CHIP'S THOUGHTS

There it is again-worship as a response to the love and work of the "primary mover." Note that the author is not speaking against emotion in music; nor is he speaking despairingly against the use of the various fine arts in the worship life of the church. He is merely warning us not to confuse an emotional response to art with a passion for God.

Have a great week!


To learn more about Chip Stam and his Worship Quote of the Week, click below.

Best on Superior Worship

Today's WORSHIP QUOTE speaks to the constant temptation to rank one system of worship as superior to another.

SUPERIOR WORSHIP
The Scriptures include or allude to just about every approach to worship there is: organized, spontaneous, public, private, simple, complex, ornate or plain. Yet there is no comment anywhere about any one way being preferred over another. Rather, it is the spiritual condition of the worshiper that determines whether or not God is at work. This fact alone countermands the tendency to assume that if we could just find the correct or fashionably relevant system, all will be well and God will come down. This doesn't imply that we have no responsibility to make intelligent and sensitive choices or to be creative. But whatever these choices eventually are, they are incapable all by themselves of establishing the superiority of one system over another.

- Harold M. Best, Music through the Eyes of Faith (San Francisco: Harper, 1994), 146.


To learn more about Chip Stam and his Worship Quote of the Week, click below.

Chrysostom on Pleasure in Church Music

Today we have another Worship Quote within a Worship Quote, a fourth-century comment about the pleasure of church music as quoted in Don Hustad's Jubilate II.

PLEASURE IN CHURCH MUSIC
It should be apparent that pleasure is one of the meanings of functional church music. For unless worshipers find some measure of enjoyment (which I equate with understanding or "appreciation") in a certain church music language, they will probably not be edified by either the music or the words... St. John Chrysostom in the fourth century gave such an explanation for the appearance of music in worship.

"When God saw that many men were lazy, and gave themselves only with difficulty to spiritual reading, He wished to make it easy for them, and added the melody to the words, that all being rejoiced by the charm of the music, should sing hymns to Him with gladness."

- St. John Chrysostom (c. 350-407) as quoted in Donald Hustad's Jubilate II: Church Music in Worship and Renewal, Chapter 2, "Church Music: A Functional Art," Hope Publishing Co., 1993.


CHIP’S THOUGHTS

I often marvel at the way a well-crafted melody can intensify or clarify the meaning of a noble text. On the other hand, I am also aware that carefully reading the text of a hymn or song can sometimes reveal meanings that had previously been overpowered or even obscured by the power of the music. Why is that?

Have a great week!


To learn more about Chip Stam and his Worship Quote of the Week, click below.

Augustine on Emotion

Today we have a Worship Quote within a Worship Quote, a fifth century comment about the power, emotion and truth of church music as presented in Don Hustad's recent Jubilate II. Read on!

EMOTION
The use of music as an expression of emotion linked to theological truth is common in all churches. In the evangelical traditions where personal religious experience is emphasized, emotional expression is one of music's most important meanings; it is probably that function which folks refer to when they identify "music that speaks to the heart."  But this is not a new experience for churchgoers. St. Augustine mentioned it in the fifth century.

"How greatly did I weep in thy hymns and canticles, deeply moved by the voice of thy sweet-speaking Church! The voices flowed into mine ears, and the truth was poured forth into my heart, whence the agitation of my piety overflowed, and my tears ran over, and blessed was I therein."

The emotional power of music is perhaps best realized in the life of the church when proper music is well coupled to appropriate text. (Note that Augustine joins emotion with truth!) In this union, the music dramatizes, underlines, "breathes life" into the words, resulting in more meaning than the words themselves could express.

St. Augustine (354-430) as quoted in Donald Hustad's Jubilate II: Church Music in Worship and Renewal, Chapter 2, "Church Music: A Functional Art," Hope Publishing Co., 1993.


To learn more about Chip Stam and his Worship Quote of the Week, click below.