Monday, 31 May 2010

Book of Common Prayer

Salisbury Cathedral

It's been a strange 10 days - one of highs and lows. Plunging the emotional depths as well as rising to as far as I can guess is heaven on earth. Most of which, I can't write about here and in the public domain (nothing sinister, trust me). Those close to me have been part of that and I praise God that I have such supportive family and friends.

Last weekend I was with my friends at STETS in Salisbury where, in the wonderful setting of the Cathedral Close, we had the most beautiful weather. The focus of the weekend was on the youth and young and my group was on the rota to lead evening worship, based on the Book of Common Prayer (BCP). Initially, we thought that actually leading BCP evening prayer would be 'easy'; straight from the book, lifted off the page stuff, not really requiring too much thought. However, as we reflected, exchanged emails and unpacked it, it wasn't going to be so easy. How could we reflect something of the theme of the weekend in Evening Worship which used the rich language of the 17th Century; and language that the young of today certainly don't use.

Lots of people talk of the language of the BCP having it's place - but this talk being used negatively. However, I bet these are the same people that enjoy Shakespeare and the other rich traditions we have that date back. Why on earth shouldn't worship just be about the language of today? So (and I have to come clean here), I turned, as I so often do, to music. What could we do to enjoy the richness of the language but mix it with where we are today? That great juxtaposition of ancient and modern - and ensuring that people were able to reach God in this short act of worship.

I suggested a number of pieces of music to my group. We went through some stuff on my ipod. Listening carefully to words, music and the whole 'ambience' of songs. And these were secular songs, not religious. We then also decided that the place for the hymn would be taken by playing a piece of music. These were the pieces we chose:

1. Before the prayer

2. In place of a hymn

3. After the prayer

I think it worked well. And I hope those there were able, through both the music and the words to connect with God. The feedback was good. The only negative was that people couldn't make out the words - a bit of a downside, but I don't know how important that is in this context.

My conclusion? I've banked this one - and would very much like to try it with a group of young people and see what we can come up with at some time in the future.

and as a PS: next time I do this, I would also show the videos - they all connect and, in my view, having just watched them make the lyrics even more powerful.


  1. Thank you for Snow patrol - that will do very nicely for introducing my Jonah preach.

    Bless U