Saturday, 4 August 2007

The Power of Music in Worship!!

I want to present and write an impassioned defence of diversity in music. I have just brought a DVD produced by the All Souls Orchestra - based at All Souls, Langham Place. I went to my first Prom Praise at the Royal Albert Hall during the difficult period when my home church was rapidly becoming functionally cessationist in doctrine and behaviour and the corporate worship was deteriorating into a hymn/prayer sandwhich. This was prior to me even hearing "that the Holy Spirit had been poured out". But at that wonderful celebration I learned that it wasn't only charismatics who could pour passion into their worship of Almighty God. I have never heard songs and hymns sung like we did there.

It has been a while since I re-acquainted myself with the All Souls Orchestra - so seeing this DVD has been a special trip down memory lane! I was especially challenged by something that the conductor - Noel Tredinnick wrote in the DVD sleeve. He said;

"I sense that if there is a risk at this time, it could be of too great a polarisation between the different approaches - to see the Christian family fall into ghettos driven merely on the basis of musical taste is distressing. We are feeling now that one of the most significant contributions that we as an orchestra can offer the church is to be a bridge ... a bridge between the traditionalist and the charismatic; a bridge between the discouraged Christian and a renewed vision of God at work; a bridge between the music-loving seeker and the Gospel".

I will never forget sharing my enthusiasm for the All Souls Orchestra and their ministry with a man I used to respect greatly at Stoneleigh Bible Week 2000 and was shocked to hear him sneer (gently) at it and suggest it wasn't worship. I believe the spirit of worship can be found wherever people's hearts are passionately set on glorifying and enjoying their God. Many of us will be familiar with the traditional "Land of Hope and Glory" set to Elgar's Pomp and Circumstance March No. 1. If you are not - here it is from "Last Night of the Proms".

But consider it sung by thousands of Christians with these wonderful words by Christopher Idle;
"Glory in the highest to the God of heaven!
Peace to all your people through the earth be given!
Mighty God and Father, thanks and praise we bring,
singing Alleluia to our heavenly King;
singing Alleluia to our heavenly King!

Jesus Christ is risen, God the Father's Son!
With the Holy Spirit, you are Lord alone!
Lamb once slain for sinners, all our guilt to bear,
show us now Your mercy, now receive our prayer;
show us now Your mercy, now receive our prayer!

Christ the world's true Saviour, high and holy One!
seated now and reigning from your Father's throne;
Lord and God we praise You! Highest heaven adores;
in the Father's glory, all the praise be yours;
in the Father's glory, all the praise be yours!".

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