Well; between Queens, Eastbourne, Wimbledon & the European Cup sports fans have been able to gorge on a diet of tennis and football for weeks. On Wednesday evening as that day’s zoom meeting of the Methodist Conference came to an end, I heard a roar of celebration more reminiscent of a football ground than our neighbour’s front room; her teenage son had several of his school friends round to watch the England Germany match. It was a simple deduction that England had scored.
Earlier during lockdown, watching football in a ground where there were no fans because of COVID restrictions was an odd experience. A silent football match sounds and feels unnatural. It’s one thing to mute the sound on the TV to answer a phone call, but even without sound, we can see a crowd. Our senses are stimulated by sight and sound working together. Add into this the shared experience of groups of people, large or small, with a common enthusiasm and the atmosphere becomes animated, charged and stimulated as it feeds on the crowd’s passion.
But, it’s not just sports crowds where the atmosphere feeds on, and is fed by, a crowd who are excited to be together. Spring Harvest, the Keswick Convention, Soul Survivor to name just some are all, or were, events where large numbers of Christians gathered to celebrate and worship together. A key part of each one was music, singing, sometimes dancing, and movement.
I think lockdown has reminded us of the value of music and singing in worship. Listening to the band is good, and a big thank you to them all for the time and effort they put into leading us in worship, but not being able to join in singing is tiresome and robs our worship of something special. It’s clear from how lively everyone appears to be when we gather to sing on the car park that we are all missing this part of worship.
The Psalms have many references to making music as worship to God. I don’t understand it; but music is a powerful means to rouse and stimulate emotion: joy, sorrow, laughter or tears. God has made us in his image and that’s not just character but also emotion: a love of sound, harmony and melody.
Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth! Serve the Lord with gladness!
Come into his presence with singing! Psalm 100
I recently watched a service online; it was live-streamed and very well done. The music was excellent and the way the technicians had managed to put many voices together, online, it seemed as though the choir really were all present in the service. Later, reflecting on the different parts of the service; music, preaching, prayers etc. I realised that, for me, not being present in the service it lacked something important. My worship was more of an extension to my personal devotions rather than a gathering with my sisters and brothers.
In a pandemic live-streamed services are good and have much to offer; but I look forward to the time we can be together, worshipping AND SINGING, glory to God.
Praise the Lord.
Praise God in his holy temple.
Praise him in his mighty heavens.
Praise him for his powerful acts.
Praise him because he is greater than anything else.
Praise him by blowing trumpets.
Praise him with harps and lyres.
Praise him with tambourines and dancing.
Praise him with stringed instruments and flutes.
Praise him with clashing cymbals.
Praise him with clanging cymbals.
Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.
Praise the Lord. Psalm 150