Monday, February 1, 2016

An Adventure in Ministry

Sing and make music

I love music. I am one of those people who would happily have three different radios playing in the house so that I am surrounded by music. I also Love the way God speaks to me through music, all different types of music. Psalm 100 talks about how we can use music to praise God.

"Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth.
   Worship the Lord with gladness;
    come before him with joyful songs.

     Know that the Lord is God.
    It is he who made us, and we are his;
    we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.

Enter his gates with thanksgiving
    and his courts with praise;
    give thanks to him and praise his name.
For the Lord is good and his love endures forever;
    his faithfulness continues through all generations."

The Message translation says ‘Sing yourselves into his presence’ I love that phrase! There have been times when things have been difficult, and I  have used a good worship time to ‘sing myself into his presence’ and receive help and healing.

Having been brought up in the Salvation Army, a church passionate about music and one that has a heritage in brass bands, and having spent some of my years in other churches, I have seen a wide range of music and how different churches engage in worship. Paul, my husband, was brought up in a charismatic free church and the past few years have certainly been an education for him regarding music and worship styles, and we have had some great debates!

Over the years I have seen many different churches and corps debating the merits of brass bands and other styles of worship. I have seen some corps blending different worship styles and using different forms of worship music. I have also played trombone in a Salvation Army brass band, as well as singing in a ‘modern’ worship  band in an Anglican church

For me, I will say, I do love a brass band, and God has spoken to me very clearly through the message of the Salvation Army band. I had a beautiful piece of music; ‘Procession to covenant’ played when I walked down the aisle at our wedding and ‘Guardian of my soul’ a stunning, reasonably recent, band piece, has helped me through some dark times in my life. I believe that the Salvation Army band is still relevant today and that worship can still be vibrant and appealing. After all the Word of the Lord attracts, not the music.

On the other hand, I also absolutely love a worship band with guitars and drums and other more contemporary instruments. There have been times in leading worship, and in engaging in worship when I have felt God’s presence close to me and have not wanted it to end! Sometimes, in this style of worship, there is more of a freedom and ability to move with the spirit, and I think this should be encouraged.

For me, I believe there is certainly a place for both. By that, I don’t mean a ‘traditional’ service and a ‘Contemporary’ service. I think that they both can go hand in hand in one service because although they both have their fabulous strengths, they also have their weaknesses. The brass band does not have the mass appeal it once had, and to be honest, some of the most contemporary tunes sound awful played by the cornet! I also have some real issues with the theology behind some of the most modern tunes. A lot of the hymns found in the Salvation Army song book (Both old and new!) are a treasure trove of biblical truth and theological principles, whereas some of the more popular, modern songs, are ropey at best in the words that are used!

The Bible makes clear that we are to praise God. It doesn’t say only cornets, or drums or singing but Psalm 150 puts it this way:

Praise God in his holy house of worship,
    praise him under the open skies;
Praise him for his acts of power,
    praise him for his magnificent greatness;
Praise with a blast on the trumpet,
    praise by strumming soft strings;
Praise him with castanets and dance,
    praise him with banjo and flute;
Praise him with cymbals and a big bass drum,
    praise him with fiddles and mandolin.
Let every living, breathing creature praise God!

So, however, you like to do it, Praise God today!

Alice Swain
North Wales

I am embarking on the adventure of full time ministry in the Salvation Army as a Territorial Envoy. I have an amazing Husband, Paul; three gorgeous step daughters, two beautiful whippets and a fabulous supportive network of friends and family. I love the outdoors, cream teas and most of all God! 

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I'm a great enthusiast for congregational singing. The perfect combination of piano and organ is the best type of worship. I believe the preacher when he says, "Next to the word of God, music deserves second praise." Hallelujah!