Wednesday, September 29, 2004

I'm having an Arts Concern

So today I attended my first chapel (non-Catholic). And we're closing up the event with a rousing old Fanny Crosby hymn. Everyone is singing along enthusiastically until we get to the chorus the second time. Then suddenly the woman singing turns into a reasonable fascimile of a gospel singer, taking the melody all over the place in rhythm and pitch, basically denying anyone in the congregation the ability to follow her lead. So eventually everyone dropped out, and she did a solo for the rest of the piece. We simply couldn't compete.

What was that? Did I accidentally wander into Season 2 of American Idol? Why the sudden diva-vication of what was supposed to be worship time? How in the world can anyone think about God when there's a person howling like a cat in heat - on a mic?

The sad thing is that she really wasn't bad. And maybe in her heart of hearts she intended to create a worshipful space for those present. But it just drew ALL the attention in the room to her. All thought of God was pretty much driven away from our minds. Some appreciated her vocal gymnastics and others just looked around, confused.

This, dear readers, is bad worship. This is what causes people to be bored with church. There is no flow. It doesn't have to be "out there" - it doesn't have to be explained or justified. But it does have to be there. Somebody has to PLAN. Somebody has to think about what is appropriate, what is uplifting, what goes with what else in the service.

Why do we spend hours in classes learning to preach, learning to exegete the Bible and come up with cute applications to everyday life, and yet there is no required course at this school on liturgy? (I use the term loosely; not that everyone has to do high-church style, but every church does have a liturgy or ritual whether they know it or not, and if they don't, they really need to get one)

How can one be a shepherd of a flock, a leader of spiritual seekers, the mapholder on the journey, if one cannot bring out the most basic inborn relationship of one's congregant's to God - that is, their natural capacity to worship? I take that back: we are great at encouraging that attribute, but it is rarely directed to the correct person.

Because if you're singing and you're thinking how to "jazz things up", or if you're in a service and find yourself marveling at someone's musical ability, that's it. You've completely lost why you are there and you might as well go home or go to a rock concert.

1 comment:

Ren said...

When I was in the choir, we'd sometimes have one or two voices go off on a soprano solo, while everyone else, the congregation included, would stick to the melody. As long as we stuck a few choir members or cantors to the melody, then the offset harmonies sounded complementary.

PS nice blog :-)