Am in Africa this week, where connection is problematic. Thanks for your patience!
Designing worship around style, however, can sometimes lead to an obsession with the present to the neglect of the past—or to only one particular past with little regard for the broader history of the church. We can easily forget those who have gone before us, even those who are worshiping earlier in the day than we are; this dishonors them and is unhealthy for us.
—Debra and Ron Rienstra, Worship Words: Discipling Language for Faithful Ministry, 177
One contemporary from 1800 described Presbyterian singing as “serious severe screaming quite beyond the natural pitch of the voice, a wandering search after the [tune] by many who never caught it…the dogs seized the occasion to bark (for they always came to Kirk with the family), and the babies to cry.” Another preacher had to warn a congregation: “Do not whisper, talk, gaze about. Do not practice that unseemly, rude, indecent Custom of Chewing or of spitting, which is very ridiculous and absurd in Public, especially in God’s House” (“The Genuine Presbyterian Whine’: Presbyterian Worship in the Eighteenth Century,” American Presbyterians, Fall 1996, pp. 157-170).
—Harry Boonstra, “The Best of Times? The Worst of Times? Snapshot of Worship Styles,” Reformed Worship 47 (March 1998),
Novelty may fix our attention not even on the service but on the celebrant. You know what I mean. Try as one may to exclude it, the question “What on earth is he up to now?” will intrude. It lays one’s devotion waste. There is really some excuse for the man who said, “I wish they’d remember that the charge to Peter was ‘Feed my sheep;’ not ‘Try experiments on my rats,’ or even, ‘Teach my performing dogs new tricks.'”
—C. S. Lewis, Letters to Malcolm: Chiefly on Prayer, Chapter I
The modern habit of doing ceremonial things unceremoniously is no proof of humility; rather it proves the offender’s inability to forget himself in the rite, and his readiness to spoil for everyone else the proper pleasure of ritual.
—C. S. Lewis, A Preface to Paradise Lost, 17
More important than our experience of Christ is the Christ of our experience.
—James B. Torrance, Worship, Community and the Triune God of Grace, 34
It is unscriptural to view worship songs as capable of initiating or guaranteeing God’s presence….Songs of worship cannot create, deliver, or otherwise command God’s presence. We cannot sing down the presence of God. The presence is already real. Music is an element in worship, like other elements, that helps us to interact conversationally with the triune God who is present, but music must not be given power on our terms.
—Constance Cherry, The Music Architect: Blueprints for Engaging Worshipers in Song, 67-68
“That would be more characteristic of Baal worship.”