Questions About Worship
Today I went to chapel at Westmont College. I sat in the back of the gym and enjoyed good music, Ben Patterson's great leadership and an inspiring meditation from a local pastor. I was self-critiquing as we sang four songs at the beginning. The songs were both new, familiar and a very traditional hymn sung creatively.
The question I have for worship leaders is: how many times do you re-sing a song phrase? Growing up with word-dense hymns, we sang stanzas one time only and choruses/refrains between stanzas. Yet at chapel we sang some phrases 4 times. I like coming back to a phrase that is spiritually weighty, but then I reach a limit where I've said/sung what I needed to sing and desire to move on. Then, if the song keeps going, I find myself stopping and waiting for the song to end. Clearly there is a middle line of letting the Spirit lead and the Spirit move us along. Since we sing from screens without pages in hymnals, is the repeating a way of anchoring words into our memory (versus knowing where the hymn is in a book?).
The other question is why do we sing so many songs back-to-back? The reason I asked that is that I have forgotten the title and words to the second song we sang. They were all good songs/hymns, but it's like shopping for me; I can remember one or two items, but if it's three or more, I need a list because I forget them. Its the same with songs for me. Is that a reflection of my age and musical condition? Vocally I'm sure it's better to flow from one song into another because our vocal chords are warmed and loosened up.
I think the set of four or more songs is not so much to state spiritual truths in a literary manner but to set a spiritual mood in an emotional manner. Neither one is better than the other, but it's not always explicitly stated.
I am all the more grateful for Bob Gross, the Director or Worship Arts here at MCC. He and I rambled about this topic and he is helping to teach me what this generation expects, experiences and needs.
What a hoot!