Volume 37 Spring 2001
The shape of the building expresses a belief about the nature of the church: cathedral, hall church, the Corrymeela Chapel shaped like an ear, the glass wall at Carberry looking at the cross outside the church. Queen's Cross was a Free Church preaching station. At its centenary the pulpit was removed and a stage created, with movable furnishings. Now the pews are removed, to enable flexible shaping of seating and to enable the building to be used by the community. Starting point was that pews had no theological or ecclesiastical significance. Allowed more comfort but also showed congregation not stuck in the past, and could match the numbers so that the church would look full.
The place of flowers and foliage is to enhance not obscure; especially at weddings the ecclesiastical and liturgical geography must be discernible. Regarding the lectern, why should the reading of the Word be two or three feet lower than the preaching of it. The prayer desk allows for the minister to be identified spacially for opening prayers; thus Approach, Word and Response each have their focal point). There is much to recommend the placing of the font at the west door, or it may have its own dedicated space. The table is not one where elders sit but should be left as a table (for all to gather round); no longer need for a larger 'presidential chair' (once the place for preaching). The difficulty of showing the relationship of pulpit and table is discussed.
Open air and indoor music is discussed, with church music among the latter. The building itself is an instrument; the size and shape of the space and the materials from which it is made and filled are all relevant. How sound works. Carpets can inhibit singing. The location of the music-makers matters, not just for sound but how the relationship with each other is best to be expressed. The congregation are one such musical group; they need to feel safe to sing. A skilled choir adds to and completes the offering of the congregation; it does not perform to them (and should therefore not be announced and thanked as if an 'act'. A choir also interacts with and enables the congregation's own music. Movement and vestment may add to the experience of worship. The placing of the choir is discussed. The placing and the manner of playing of instruments is discussed, including the siting of an organ – including electronic/digital organs and their speakers. Use as a concert hall may lead to modifications of the building but there are dangers to be avoided. It is to remembered that music is not only to do with the space in which it is made but the inner space in which it is heard.
New Art for Church Buildings, Church House Publishing, reviewed by Douglas Galbraith
An Outline of Christian Worship, Gordon Wakefield, T & T Clark 1998, reviewed by Colin G McAlister