Music in worship

Worship is affirming God’s character. He is the Infinite Transcendent Creator. We are creatures, limited to creature words. The more we understand about who God is, the more inadequate creature words are. “He is greater than all language, and no statement can express Him All our thoughts about Him will be less than He, and our loftiest utterances will be trivialities in comparison with Him.” (The Knowledge of the Holy, p. 50)

Our creature words simply are not enough. We need more than just words to express our worship. (If we never experience this frustration, perhaps our worship is stuck at a superficial level.)

Music (and other art) provides a small step beyond words to express our appreciation and affirmation and adoration. We are on the border between our intellectual, rational, verbal expression and the Numinous, the Other.

Music and art stretch the bounds of our creature words just a little.

The music leaders – a choir, ensemble, or soloist – have the opportunity to help the congregation into this dimension of worship, to inspire (in the most literal sense of infusing the Spirit into) the worshipers. The first responsibility of the people in front of the congregation is to worship. The quality of the performance is important, but the choir or soloist must model worship by worshiping. The congregation’s attention is drawn not to the mechanics or skill or accomplishment, but to the true Object of worship.

As worshipers, we must see the choir and others not as performers to be evaluated, but as leaders to be emulated. Their success is not measured by the volume of our applause but by the depth of our worship.

Copyright 2004 Michael Wiebe