Thursday, July 20, 2006

[THO] Liturgical Trappings

Over an Ben Myer's blog there is a poll on what is the worst liturgical invention! What an interesting topic it has been, last I checked he ahd garnered 72 comments (only about 4 were me before you ask). What really struck me is that "tiny communion cups" is leading! Yeah, those silly little grape juice recepticles so common in the Church today. Is this further evidence of a real Eucharistic renewal in the Church? I sure hope so. Some of the early comments are priceless, like the guy who witnessed fat men in tights doing liturgical dance - yeah I know you want to rip your eyes out just reading about such a thing. Although I often suspected this is something that went on in freemasonry.

So what do you think is the best liturgical invention? It could be from any era, but something that was introduced into the church and just makes a lot of sense. If I get enough variety I'll make up a poll.


Pontificator said...

Chanted litugy

One of Freedom said...

Great to have you stop by Pontificator. I've only experienced chanted liturgy a few times and it is very nice. I also really enjoy it when the responsives are done musically, of course this can be done badly or done well. But when done well it absolutely sparkles.

For me I would have to say projected lyrics for the congregants. Let's free up those hands and the clumbsiness of thumbing through a book between songs. I love it when songs of worship flow one into another and overheads/projected lyrics really helps to facilitate this. Plus it unifies us in our focus forward.

Anonymous said...

Re: "For me I would have to say projected lyrics for the congregants. Let's free up those hands and the clumbsiness of thumbing through a book between songs. I love it when songs of worship flow one into another and overheads/projected lyrics really helps to facilitate this. Plus it unifies us in our focus forward."

I completely disagree. I dislike screens, which remind me of the workplace/office/business setting. I also very much dislike having lyrics with no music. It makes me feel excluded when I don't know the song, and even when I do know the song I like to follow the music.

And I also dislike extended singing sessions where the singing never stops and you can't tell where one song ends and the other begins. I find it emotionally manipulative. Plus it wears me out. I like to have the listening and singing parts interspersed so that you never get sick of one or the other.

I like hymns in their proper places: Processionial, Gradual, Offertory, Communion, Recessional. I also like it when the choir sings an anthem. Also I like chanting the Psalms (we use Anglican chant): just saying them is not quite the same.

I think the use of a lectionary is one of the best liturgical inventions. Or perhaps the Christian year (Advent, Christmas, Epiphany, Lent, Easter, Pentecost...).

Anonymous said...

P.S. I couldn't get the link to the article "Towards a Postmodern Theology" (in your Published Articles section) to open up.

One of Freedom said...

Sorry Anonymous I think they took down the Inside Worship archives, where it was published. I'm going to email them and find out if that is going to be available online again. It was quite a bit along the same lines as the other article which was published in Christian Week as well as the Resonate Journal.

One of Freedom said...

Anonymous. I think the lectionary is a brilliant liturgical invention.

As for the music, I think you are the exception as to being able to read the music. For me the worship in song is about accessibility (can everyone participate at some level) and flow (does it compliment the liturgy as a whole). So I prefer all the aspects of the liturgy to fit together into one beautiful experience that has multiple access points. Not everyone is musicially inclined so encouraged participation in the other aspects helps this. I actually shy away from hymns, other than very well known hymns, simply because complicated unfamiliar music is not conducive to a consistantly good worship experience.

I do a fair bit of leading in the music portion within our congregation and when I do I try to keep it simple, few key changes, songs that our community knows well (at most one new song a service), simplify complex musical arrangements and reading how the music is working or not working for our particular community.

As for the emotionally manipulative aspect. I've seen that done far too many times. But it doesn't have to be that way. One of the things we try to avoid is being directive. In fact we encourage people at the beginning of our liturgy to engage in the way that they feel comfortable. And we tend to shy away from triumphalism.

byron said...

Theologically, I'd have to say that the most important liturgical development have been the creeds. While not necessarily the emotional highlight of every service, the function they play in theological formation and guidance shouldn't be underestimated, either historically or psychologically.

One of Freedom said...

Byron: I am in the midst of preparing to baptise a couple of folks from our community. I had been waiting to do this for quite a while and am taking my lead from the RCIA (Rites of Christian Initiation for Adults) which is a Roman Catholic document. I am thinking that some sort of Creedal aspect needs to be incorporated into that service. Coming out of some pretty modern liturgical settings, Creeds do not figure large into the liturgy. But we have incorporated them into our worship and it has worked well.

If we get a few more options I'll put up a proper poll.

Anonymous said...

Yes, the creeds are great. I came across the Apostle's Creed in an encyclopedia (!) when I was an Evangelical teenager and I loved it at first sight, so much that I memorized it. I did not know at the time where I would be led.

Freedom, for the baptism you could take a look at the Anglican Church of Canada: Book of Common Prayer (1962) or Book of Alternative Services.
Scroll down to the "Baptism of Those of Riper Years" part. For a more modern version, see the BAS.
I especially like the vows, and how you make the promises by saying "I will, with God's help." (Or in the BCP, "I will, God being my helper.")

Although I suppose the RC version is probably similar? I haven't ever seen an RC baptism actually.

Anonymous said...

Also, the great thing about the Creeds is every Sunday (or other day you attend worship) you are reminded of the content of your faith, and you affirm your beliefs again and again.

I say Morning Prayer out of the BCP and so I say the Apostles' Creed every day.

One of Freedom said...

Anonymous, I have only seen a video of a post-Vat II RC congregation doing immersion in a church in Texas. It was part of a course I took from an Anglican liturgical scholar, John Gibaut, he is an amazing prof BTW. What struck me so much about this liturgy was how the candidates responded to the whole experience. They did interviews and for each it was a different aspect of the service that touched them, but each was touched in a profound way. Then after the candidates were done the priest opened the waters to the faithful to re-affirm their own baptismal vows. That was profound as the congregation came, knelt by the water and splashed water on their faces. It was then I decided to pick up the RCIA to have a look and so far there is much I really like and will incorporate. I'll take a look at the Anglican rite as well, I tend to blend traditional rites with a more modern evangelical liturgy, we borrow a lot from Eucharistic Prayer 3 in the Roman rite. I just like the way it holds together.