xI haven't really posted about my experiences of Easter School. I was, however, thinking earlier today of a conversation I was having with one of my fellow students at STETS about music within worship and how it is used. I'm a big music fan, with around 12,000 songs on my ipod which vary in genre greatly, from rock and pop to Orthodox chants.
During Easter School, the theme of which was 'Christian Anthropology: being human and a 'new creation''. The second year group shared responsibility for worship throughout the week which, it was stressed should be simple and based upon the five senses. There was a rich tapestry of worship, all quite brief, but for which a lot of thought and care had been taken in compiling. My group was to lead worship on Saturday and we had planned to use some music with it. Originally, the plan had been to use some classical music - some Easter Orthodox. Being the person with the ipod, it was left to me to choose something suitable.
As the week went on, I had in my head a particular song that I had desperately wanted to play, seemingly appropriate for the theme of the week. It was only, however, a few minutes before worship that I asked my group whether it was something that could be used during our worship. Potential to plunge plans into chaos!!!
Anyway, the group very kindly agreed. This is the track.....
We played it on a loop. However, this then begged the question as to what was 'right' to play during worship itself. Again, prior to my spanner in the works, we had chosen a classical piece. I didn't think it would be right. I suggested another option:
People entered the hall for worship with a spring in their step and moving into worship, I sensed that the right choice had been made. I believe people were able to engage with God within the music.
It does lead on to the question of whether Christians in liturgy should use secular music. I say "why not?" There are some caveats, however and those leading or constructing worship (would that be a liturgist?) do need to take into account a number of factors;
- one of the most important being the lyrics contained within the song (if there are lyrics). What do (or do they not) they say? There are plenty songs with sexist, anti-Christian lyrics or those that might just plain offend. That should be the first port of call before anything else is considered.
- where and when is the music being used? If there is more than one piece of music, do they blend in together are they are the same style? If not, ensure there is sufficient space between tracks
- volume; if music is used in a meditative environment, ensure that it is loud enough but not so loud that it drowns out people's thoughts. Some music is great as people are entering church or the worship space - but consider what atmosphere that is being created; and what the worship is.
I have always found music a way to connect with God in both quiet prayer but also in corporate worship. It doesn't suit everyone and I appreciate that it isn't too everyone's taste, but it can enrich our liturgy if used correctly. I would always say that enough thought and prayer has gone into selecting the 'right' music, try it!
Here's some more music that I have used in worship: