Cultural Inflection in Worship

Each culture uses its own rhythms, melodies, and instruments to convey meaning through music. An intonation that signals politeness in one language may signal disbelief in another. It would be inappropriate to use victory music at a tragic scene, party music at a serious scene, or shaman music at a worship scene. A familiar musical setting helps people identify with the message. A song that sounds beautiful to a Westerner may sound dissonant to someone else and hinder them from opening up to the message.

—Wycliffe Bible Translators, “Scripture Engagement”

Mixing It Up

The glory of the gospel is to unite peoples of every language and culture under the lordship of Christ (Eph. 2:11-22; 4:3-6,13; Rev. 7:9-17). So we should not be content with divisions created by different musical tastes and traditions. As we grow to maturity in Christ we should be looking for ways to express the unity that is God’s goal for us: in gospel action, in the exchange of ministries and gifts, in combined services and in the sharing of musical resources and experiences.

—David G. Peterson, Encountering God Together: Leading Worship Services That Honor God, Minister to His People, and Build His Church, 143

The Book of God

“This Book [is] the most valuable thing that this world affords. Here is Wisdom; this is the royal Law; these are the lively Oracles of God.” With these words the Moderator of the Church of Scotland hands a Bible to the new monarch in Britain’s coronation service.

—Preface to the English Standard Version

The First Move

Christian worship is our affirmative, transforming response to the self- revelation of God. . . . We are not seeking to find or to know an obscure, frightening being who needs to be placated. God makes and continues to make the first move, showing himself in power and in love, inviting our response. In fact, worship is any and every affirmative response to God.

—Don Hustad, in Jubilate II: Church Music in Worship and Renewal