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.
The reforms in music which attended the reform of worship in the Reformation ranged widely from the rejection of all instruments and the restriction of singing solely to the Psalms to the choral Eucharists of the Anglicans.
The liturgy below is of an Anabaptist group in Waldshut. Unlike other Anabaptists, this community was not on the run, but settled in a place where the people enjoyed greater freedom of worship. These Anabaptists were also led by a minister who was a liturgical scholar.
The Reform of the liturgy in England began in 1540 under the leadership of Thomas Cranmer. The Book of Common Prayer was revised again in 1552, and a final revision was completed in 1662. The service below is from the 1662 Book of Common Prayer.
Anabaptists argued for a pure church and a radical discipleship in absolute obedience to Scripture. They refused to countenance any form of worship that could not be substantiated by Scripture.
Anglican worship has a variegated history, having fluctuated between worship forms similar to those of Catholicism and worship influenced by the Puritans. This accounts in part for the variations in worship within the Anglican communion of today. Nevertheless, The Book of Common Prayer is basic to all Anglican churches.
Calvin argued that only practices explicitly taught in Scripture could be used in worship. For this reason, churches influenced by Calvin have been less inclined to restore pre-Reformation practices of worship perceived as unbiblical or “Catholic.”
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.
Although the Reformed tradition has been more restrictive about the use of music in worship than the Lutheran tradition, it nevertheless highly values the role of music in worship. This article describes emphases important in the Reformed tradition, largely in terms of the writings of Reformer John Calvin.