“Grasping the Heel of Heaven” - Some Issues in Contemporary Liturgy and Music”

Canon Michael Perham

The Church Service Society Lecture 1995

Three 'fundamentals' are outlined.. Worship is a daring anticipation of heavenly realities; it is putting us in touch with the reality of God. The undercurrent of worship is undergirding prayerfulness which lies beyond the speaking and singing and it is a corporate prayerfulness.
We may have other agendas – evangelism, teaching, fellowship but worship should be pure worship and God returns it to us as gift and blessing (which attracts new Christians, gives better sense of belonging etc); if these other agendas are not being met we should not change worship but look at the quality. Outlines seven reasons why there have been changes in worship: address God in ordinary language, all age worship, quest for spontaneity/variety/ informality (not see as entertainment but not immune to expectations), loss of confidence in heritage and tradition, only one hour in week available, easy availability of new lit material esp music, Liturgical Movement and flowering of scholarship. But is there also a new openness to the Spirit of God. This has affected music: desire for culturally different music, emphasis on participation, changes in music education, recorded music industry and expectations about standards, divorce between serious composers and the church. Five areas of new activity: liturgical language, draw on all musical genres, sing the liturgy, lines of communication with world of education, teach/preach/lead about prayerfulness.


Volume 31 Christmas 1996, p1