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.
One of the most important aspects of the worship space is its acoustical properties. This is so because of the importance of sounds in worship, the sound of verbal proclamation and musical prayer and praise.
Anthems sung by choirs and soloists have a long history in Christian worship. Many of the world’s finest composers have written anthems for use in worship. Yet the best anthems are those which unite such musical genius with concern for the text that is sung and the function of the anthem in the context of the entire worship service.
The chorale was Martin Luther’s important contribution to church music. Featuring strong rhythmic tunes and vernacular texts, the early chorales were songs for all worshiping people to sing. Since the Reformation, a long line of hymn writers, especially in Germany and Scandinavia, has contributed to this genre, leaving behind one of the richest bodies of music in the Christian church.
Luther’s Formula Missae, written after his break with Rome, did not suggest a wholesale reform of the Catholic mass. Rather, Luther cautiously suggested ways of adapting the Mass for use in local congregations and also proposed ways to make it more relevant to the common people.
Luther’s liturgical reform was guided by the principle that if the Scriptures did not expressly reject a particular practice, the church was free to keep it. Consequently, Lutheran worship retained much of the ceremonial practice of Catholic worship.
Among Protestant churches, the Lutheran tradition has the richest heritage of music for worship. It is based on the assumption that music is a profound means by which we enter God’s presence and render our liturgy of thanksgiving to God. Bringing together insights first developed by Martin Luther and practices that have grown out of almost 500 years of Lutheran worship, this article describes why and how music is used in Lutheran worship.
Recently I came across this quote from Martin Luther (1483-1586): “If you perhaps look for praise and would sulk or quit what you are doing if you did not get it — if you are of that stripe, dear friend — then take yourself by the ears, and if you do this in the right way, you will find a beautiful pair of big, long, shaggy donkey ears!”
Martin Luther’s life was dramatically changed as he meditated on Romans 1:17: “For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: `The righteous will live by faith.’”
I think most of us wonder from time to time if our lives have or are truly making a positive difference within the limited sphere of our influence. Having been involved in quite a variety of Christian ministries since 1975 (not to mention earlier attempts to impact fellow military comrades for Christ), I ponder this one often! For those of us who take our faith seriously, nothing is more important than leaving behind a legacy of effectiveness for the Kingdom of God.