Category: Music


We opened with Veni Sancte Spiritus as prayerful chant, begun on the heart beat. By focusing on our collective heart and listening to one another, we wove a tapestry of sound that filled the room even at its most quiet iteration.

Welcome to Emergent Christianity, this year’s Emerging-Catholic offering from Richard Rohr and the Center for Action and Contemplation.

“Slowly blooms a rose within/slowly blooms a rose within.”

As new layers of harmony are added, I can’t help but be who I am–more caught with the sounds than the message. However, I have some ideas about chants…ideas that seem to go against what I was taught as an evangelical. I would love to lead a chant like this with enough voices to cover every harmony (very softly, of course–not showing off voices, but allowing the notes to sing themselves), but for much longer than we sang them today. This is the sort of chant should continue beyond comfort, to and past understanding, to a place where something deeper might be reached by the supplicant.

There is something almost narcotic about this kind of music. It can lull or awake. Will you allow the moment to sweep you away?

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Some of you know that I grew up in the church of Christ, a denomination which believes that by eschewing instruments in worship, they are reading the NT perfectly literally. Setting aside the theological issues, I know this–I appreciate a capella singing in a way that few others in the world can!

This past Sunday I joined my parents at their church and felt a wave of nostalgia wash over me as the song leader blew into his pitch pipe and the congregation “tuned up.” Seriously. By the second or third note of each song, we had full four-part harmony, typically with no books or written music because they are now posting song lyrics on an overhead. It’s a new church plant with nearly 200 members and boy can those people sing!

For me, the purest moment in God’s presence happens through music. It doesn’t matter if I am signing, playing, listening to something, writing a song, leading worship or Christmas carols–God is there in a tangible way for me.

So it was quite a shock when a dear friend at a former church job confessed to me that she didn’t like music and found ways to avoid the “worship service” at our church.

That was the moment I became enthralled with the idea of immersive worship–finding ways beyond music to help people meet God in the same way I do with music. I’m afraid a lot of the worship pastors at churches don’t give much consideration to the people who are not musical. It takes more work than some worship pastors have time to put in, honestly. But I am dedicated to those ideas.

So I asked my friend what would help her worship. This particular lady loved to write short dramatic scripts. I worked with the pastor to create a position for her on the worship team in which she wrote and directed a short play or skit in every corporate service. Many more people wanted to be involved in her drama ministry than in my worship ministry! That was compelling to me.

Yes, I know. Drama ministries are not new. The big difference was that this one wasn’t slick, professional, or paid. Nor was it run by the youth group and simply tolerated by the church. It was fully implemented into each worship service and themed series. She called on different members of the congregation each week to be a part of it. Every piece was original–written by my friend or someone else in the congregation. We immersed people in the creative experience and week after week someone new asked if they could get involved.

Being creative doesn’t have to mean reinventing the wheel–maybe simply redesigning it to fit the group you work with.