global music and worship

It seems that a truce has been called in the so-called worship wars. Or at least I seem to hear a lot less about such wars raging in the church today.

Perhaps this lull in the fighting is because the church in the West has finally realized it has more important questions to answer than whether we go traditional or contemporary in our musical worship. Or perhaps (a less promising possibility!) the silence on these questions reflects the fact that each has decided to go his or her own way – the contemporary worshippers and the traditional worshippers have simply parted company, so there’s nothing left to fight over.

Whatever the case case, I’m not intending to open a new front in these old battles. However, there is one suggestion I would like to make, no matter where we may have settled on the question of worship style. My simple suggestion is that we remain open and attentive to the worship styles and content that come to us from the global church.

This isn’t to say that such attention is utterly lacking in our congregations. Some local churches are more than aware of the ways that our worship can be enriched by the melodies and rhythms and themes of global Christianity. But I also know of plenty of worshipping communities (blended, contemporary, traditional) where the diversity of the worldwide church never finds expression in music. Continue reading


Reuse, Recycle

Was reading in the Telegraph today and came across this piece about the Victoria and Albert Museum’s new medieval and resnaissance galleries. What really drew my attention was the first phograph attached to the story, which is of stained glass from Sainte-Chapelle, France (1243-8). As you can see from the picture, the windows have been mounted (it’s hard to tell how, exactly) in such a way that they appear not as windows but almost as sulptures mounted together – against a white backdrop.

In the congregation I serve, we are in the midst of an attempt to sell a portion of our property. While we are not talking about demolition of the church sanctuary, the question has sometimes arisen as to how aspects of the traditional structure might be preserved in a new context. The Victoria and Albert Museum’s presentation of these medieval windows offers a striking example, it seems to me, of how traditional pieces could be incorporated into a more modern worship space and structure. If not in the case of the congregation I serve, perhaps in other contexts where similar questions arise.