In addition to formal dance, the postures taken for the various acts of worship are an important aspect of movement in worship. Posture both reflects and shapes the attitudes that we bring to worship. One of the most important postures for many Christians in worship is that of kneeling for prayer. This article traces the history of the use of kneeling in worship and commends this practice to all Christians.
Christian dance has persisted throughout the history of the church, despite many official decrees against it. Christian churches that have incorporated dance and other stylized gestures in worship have benefited from a profound way of expressing their praise and enacting the gospel message. Dance as worship is one manifestation of the Spirit’s ongoing activity in the church.
The reading of Scripture has been a significant part of both Jewish and Christian worship, an appropriate liturgical priority for a religion that is based on God’s revelation. This article traces the history of the reading of Scripture in worship throughout the history of the church.
The honor accorded the pipe organ in Christian worship represents a curious paradox. On the one hand, the Christian church through most of its history has had an abiding antipathy toward instruments; on the other, the organ (together with bells) has, since the late Middle Ages, become so identified with the church that it embodies the very essence of “churchliness.” How could this have happened?
Taizé is a worship renewal community in France that has developed a style of music and Scripture song for all parts of worship. The article below introduces the community, its worship, and song.
From its location on an island off the coast of Scotland, the Iona Community has done much to influence the music of the world church, especially in North America. They have done this by providing the music used in their own worship services and by collecting songs from the church on every continent.
Roman Catholic liturgy, like that of many of the more liturgical churches, features texts that are sung in each liturgy or service. These are called ordinary texts. Often these texts are sung. Settings of these texts, and other frequently used texts, are called service music or liturgical music. This music is part of the liturgy itself, not something that interrupts or is added to the liturgy. Since the Second Vatican Council in the early 1960s, Catholic churches have had more freedom in choosing service music. This has resulted in vast numbers of new compositions, many of which are valuable for churches in many worship traditions.
Recent hymnals have included a wide variety of congregational songs from around the world. These provide new styles of music for use in worship and new ways of expressing the unity of the worldwide church.
Shape-note singing was an important part of the social and religious life of rural America before the Civil War. Entire communities gathered for all-day singing. Some of these gatherings, called conventions, lasted several days. In some parts of America, these shape-note singing festivals are held yet today, offering a very unique and vibrant style of music that could well be sung in churches of many traditions.
According to this author’s view, there is no distinctive hymnody that prevails in Asian-American churches, but there are certain characteristics and trends that typify these congregations. In providing detailed distinctions among the various Asian groups, this article does give some perspective on the music used in Asian-American churches and the challenges that these churches are facing.