it’s not all about music

First, an anecdote about worship: at some point six or eight years ago, I discovered that a good time to read the announcements in the bulletin was while singing “Doxology”. I could sing it by muscle memory, in various of the harmony parts, in English and Spanish, and still read. I wondered how many others were just going through the motions during that part of the service. Did everyone else still get anything spiritual out of singing “Doxology” every week at 11:05? Was this an experience of the holy, or filler until the sermon? This question was probably the most concentrated moment that led to my interest in contemporary worship, and led also to my discomfort with unquestioned traditions that might be spending time on something other than experiencing the holy.

Although I am a music and worship leader, sometimes the musical part takes on a larger role in my discussions here than it deserves. Maybe that’s because it’s the first thing people notice as different when they sit in a contemporary service for the first time. Maybe I feel more competent to offer “expert advice” on that aspect, while I am still groping my way through what contemporary liturgy could and should be in a UU congregation.

There’s much more to worship than music, and Paul Oakley and I have been having some very interesting conversations in the comments sections of our respective blogs.

I direct your attention here for the latest and, I think, a very interesting discussion of what goes into worship, how it works and why it matters.

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About liberalreligiongetsloud

Contemporary Music and Worship Director (retired), First Unitarian, Albuquerque NM
This entry was posted in contemporary worship. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to it’s not all about music

  1. Paul Oakley says:

    Your “Doxology” reference made me think of this video short, which, if you’ve never seen it, may be good for a chuckle – or else just make you scratch your head in confusion. Gotta love the auto-tango sequence! And the football drones at the end after the final credits is cute. 🙂

    (The version of the doxology used in the video is the standard Trinitarian version set to the “Old Hundredth” tune not the Unitarian one in the gray book to the same tune but with words by Alicia S. Carpenter via William Kethe.)

    It is amazing the things that have been retained in the various liturgical permutations from the Protestant Reformation on. The doxology falling at a particular spot is the inheritance (or deadfall) of the ages. Something that once had a reason for being what it was where it was in the then mass, then Gottesdienst. It’s not so clear how it explains itself in standard spots in UU liturgy of the postmodern era…

    The Doxology does, despite everything, hold a tender place in my heart, though. I grew up fundamentalist Christian, and we didn’t use any such set musical punctuation marks in worship. But after worship came Sunday School. And after Sunday School everyone gathered for a final few moments together in the auditorium. There were a few words spoken, then a prayer, then a short musical piece – a role shared between the Doxology and a few alternate pieces similarly compact. And then we could go home for roast beef and mashed potatoes. I always loved the musical pieces in that slot.

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