Music in Worship
If music be the food of love, play on, give me excess of it. (The beginning of ‘Twelfth Night’ by William Shakespeare)
Our choirs are back in residence at our 10am services and tonight we have the opportunity of hearing our choristers sing together with a professional orchestra. It seems that music has been part of the worship of God since before even the time of Christ, for there is evidence that the psalms, the most ancient of all prayer books, were sung in worship, and even that they were accompanied by all manner of blowing, plucking and rhythm-beating instruments (see Psalm 150 for example).
Thanks to my children I have over the last few years expanded my own repertoire of listening beyond the rather narrow (but nevertheless glorious) confines of Radio 3 and Classic FM to a station I had never even heard of before called ‘Radio One’. Here one comes across such joys as our local heroes ‘Florence the Machine’, Adele, as well as ‘Kodak Black’, singing about the deepest of emotions of love, life and death in electronically highly processed tunes and rhythms.
There is no doubt that music engages our deepest emotions such as sadness, love and joy. By listening, playing and singing we can even have our emotions subtly changed. In worship, music gives us the space to become transformed, sometimes to leave anger behind us and to be flooded with positive emotions and a desire for new beginnings and for God to fill a larger space of our inner being, so that we can become free and more truly ourselves. At best music in worship brings something of ourselves into service, and in the liturgy, in the joint singing and listening, the music itself and we are transformed into something greater.
17 September 2017