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Liturgical worship is not dead. Recent discoveries.

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    Liturgical worship is not dead. Recent discoveries.

    I'm one of the worst when it comes to hand-wringing over the alarming trend away from traditional, liturgical, hymn-based, and otherwise time-proven worship, as more and more rock-and-roll churches seem to be springing up everywhere and more and more mainline "traditional" churches seem to be struggling if not closing. It's hard to be optimistic about the future of the organ and choir in church when so many signs are pointing toward their demise and the growing "normalization" of anything-goes, loosey-goosey, feet-stomping, hand-raising, holes-in-the-bluejeans worship.

    But in the past week I've encountered not one but two congregations that are not only fully committed to genuine "traditional" worship (and not just in the sense of "singing the old songs that Grandma loved"), where liturgy and form are honored, but which are prospering and growing, bursting at the seams.

    The first one I ran into is an RCC in a neighboring city. It's a town I've been in many times, but I wasn't even aware that they had an RC church. But I got a call from the lady who's been hired to play the organ, she came to the shop and looked around, then I went to the church and visited with some of the members. This congregation has recently purchased a church facility from a defunct fundamentalist church of some kind and are busily converting it into a magnificent Catholic church. There was an old Allen T-12A in the building, but they are probably going to buy a nice digital organ from us. They are looking to get a pipe organ at some point, but a good full-size digital will tide them over. And get this, not only is this congregation fully liturgical, they do it in LATIN. And they are bursting at the seams, making plans to enlarge the facility ASAP.

    The second is a burgeoning Lutheran congregation in a fairly remote community. They have a smallish Allen that we were called out to service. When I inquired about the nature of the church, they proudly told me that they have only their traditional service, no contemporary service at all, and that they are doing very well.

    There are others out there too in my area, though it's still much more common to run into an organist singing the blues because he/she doesn't know how much longer the traditional service will continue, as everybody under the age of 80 is now going to the contemporary service.

    But I'll take any encouraging sign I can get!
    John
    ----------
    Church: Allen MDS-45 with Allen MIDI-DIVISION-II expander
    Home: Allen Renaissance R-230 with expanded four-channel audio and MIDI-DIVISION-II
    Shop: Bunch of organs in varying conditions, some good, some not...
    Half of an incredible two-man organ service team -- servicing all the major digitals in Arkansas churches
    https://www.facebook.com/pages/Birds...97551893588434

    #2
    Central UMC in Phoenix is very High-Church Methodist. I attended a service there while visiting kinfolk and the service was straight Wesleyan, with 2 anthems in Latin and full liturgy--the congregation even sang the responses. I was ecstatic!

    David

    Comment


      #3
      I just remember ringing for Choral Evensong at Christ Church St Lawrence, Sydney. The highest Anglicanism I have ever seen. Full Processional, choir, organ, acolytes, three priests, deacons, "the whole shabang". Didn't get to see most of the service though because we still had to ring at St Mary's Basilica, but it was pretty impressive nonetheless.

      Comment


        #4
        Originally posted by jbird604 View Post
        Lutheran congregation in a fairly remote community. They have a smallish Allen that we were called out to service. When I inquired about the nature of the church, they proudly told me that they have only their traditional service, no contemporary service at all, and that they are doing very well.
        I hope they told you "happily" and not proudly. We all know what pride goeth before...
        -- I'm Lamar -- 1967 Allen TC-4 Project (forum thread)
        -- 1899 Kimball Parlor Organ (forum thread)
        -- 1999 Rodgers W5000C and Hauptwerk - spare W5000C for spares
        -- Conn 643 Theater - Hammond M3 and E-112 - Roland RD300nx stage piano
        -- Public domain hymn search: https://songselect.ccli.com/search/r...t=publicdomain

        Comment


          #5
          Encouraging observations John. Thanks. I have had a few contacts with some of the local (and not so local) churches and found the Catholics to be very "traditional" although not to the extent of that Latin bit you mention. I am not a Catholic so for me to notice the difference it has to be substantial, meaning the nature of their services.

          Yesterday I received a call from another church having some problems with their organ - just the fact that they still have an organ indicates they are also still singing hymns.

          Lets keep the information coming - as John mentioned.... those 80-year or thereabouts olds are the ones that perhaps will notice the drastic changes most, eh?

          Nico
          "Don't make war, make music!" Hammonds, Lowreys, Yamaha's, Gulbransens, Baldwin, Technics, Johannus. Reed organs. Details on request...

          Comment


            #6
            John, thanks for the encouragement and sharing the good news! Hope that you will find even more liturgical parishes to write us about!!!
            Lloyd
            Lloyd

            Happily retired organist/pianist from the Church of the Brethren...Allen ADC-4300-DK.
            Home...Wurlitzer (ES) Orgatron Series 20 Serial #11608 (retrofitted with MIDI and VPO-Hauptwerk) with Leslie 44W (shorty).
            Hammond BC Serial #5070 with Leslie 31A (tallboy) tone cabinet
            A.L. Swan antique pump organ (C.1852) Cherry Valley NY
            Member of the Lutheran Church (LCMS): traditional worship. Cleveland Clinic Spiritual Care volunteer with the chaplain's office.

            Comment


              #7
              Such encounters inspire me. I do hear stories now and then about some highly traditional/liturgical church that is prospering. A few years ago there was an article in the state paper about an Episcopal church in northwest Arkansas that was drawing big crowds with their elaborate "bells and smells" worship, bucking the trend toward casual pop-music church. And now and then an article comes across my Facebook feed about how Millenials are repulsed by the tacky pseudo-rock-concert worship services of the trendy big box churches, and are "flocking" to churches that feature the ancient rituals, chant, choirs, robes, elaborate processionals, and the like.

              But my personal experience continues to be rather unsettling, as hardly a month goes by without a report from some church where I installed a nice organ 30 or 35 years ago, now dwindled to a handful of oldsters. Very often a big box church has put up a branch in the same town and has begun sucking the life out of every mainline church in the area. Worse yet are the stories about formerly stately traditional congregations where a pastor has come on the field who convinces them they are going to shrivel up and die if they don't get with the modern trend. So they ditch the organ and the choir and install a drum set on their lovely chancel, cover up the stained glass with black tarps, take out the pews and bring in folding chairs. The result is the exit of the few remaining members who were tithing, and the church soon folds up completely, while someone blames it on the "old people who refused to change."

              Even if the stories are sporadic and true traditional churches are few and far between, we can always rejoice that they have not been completely snuffed out. There are a good many folks who honestly believe that holey-bluejean worship is the wave of the future and the only way to go if you want to "grow" a church. Even the more or less mainline denominations seem to have church-planting efforts directed by people who buy into that idea. But I do hear of a newly-planted Lutheran or Catholic congregation now and then that is adhering to the liturgical norm and doing very well.

              Who knows what may be around the bend? I hear whispered rumors that such and such big box church in town is riddled with problems, that their crowds aren't what they used to be. Not good to gloat over someone else's misfortune, of course. But these could be signs that the movement is losing its appeal to some extent. The challenge now is for the churches that still know how to do traditional worship to step up and make themselves known, to open their doors and hearts to the seeking folks who didn't find what they were looking for in the big box.
              John
              ----------
              Church: Allen MDS-45 with Allen MIDI-DIVISION-II expander
              Home: Allen Renaissance R-230 with expanded four-channel audio and MIDI-DIVISION-II
              Shop: Bunch of organs in varying conditions, some good, some not...
              Half of an incredible two-man organ service team -- servicing all the major digitals in Arkansas churches
              https://www.facebook.com/pages/Birds...97551893588434

              Comment


                #8
                While it's gratifying to know that traditional forms of worship are hanging on, in light of a recent PRRI Survey of US worship, perhaps the question is not the future of music in worship, but the future of worship itself.

                Here are some interesting points from the survey:
                • Today only 43% of Americans identify as white and Christian and only 30% as white and Protestant. In 1976 those numbers were 81% and 55% respectively.
                • White Evangelical Protestants as well as white mainline Protestants and white Catholics are in decline. In 2006 23% of white Americans identified as Evangelical Protestants. Today that number has fallen to 17%.
                • In 1976 only 7% of the population identified as being religiously unaffiliated, today that number is 25%. More telling is that in the 18 - 29 age group, 38% are unaffiliated. Roughly 62% of white evangelicals and Catholics and 59% of mainline Protestants are 50 or older.


                In this light, the switch to contemporary music in worship can be seen as an attempt to lure those 18 -29 year olds back to church, but that doesn't seem to have been working. Considering that, I find it hard to believe that a return to traditional worship will reverse the trend as there is little or no basis for appreciation of music outside of the pop genre in the current cultural climate.
                -Admin

                Allen 965
                Zuma Group Midi Keyboard Encoder
                Zuma Group DM Midi Stop Controller
                Hauptwerk 4.2

                Comment


                  #9
                  Maybe it isn't the music that is responsible for the dwindling numbers. Maybe the message is the problem.

                  I know this is a music forum and as such this is seen as very important. But honestly, believing isn't about music, it is about message and content. Just the term "worship" is plainly wrong to me. Believing isn't about worshipping. When I read "big box church" I don't think about believe but about a money making supermarket to cater for people that mistake attending an event for a celebration of a faith.

                  Comment


                    #10
                    My observation is that the Tridentine Latin parishes are doing well all things considered - and some outperform many other liberal parishes. They tend to produce higher numbers of candidates for religious life too, as far as I can tell. I suspect many will travel a bit to go to a church they believe is doing things properly and with the necessary reverence.

                    Christ Church St Lawrence, Sydney? I will have to endeavour to go to Evensong there if the opportunity presents itself. If they do the Scripture readings from the Old King James Bible even better as I'm not even sure I've heard it used at the Anglican Cathedral where I am (they have a bunch of rather left-leaning greenies running it and so often the sermons are social justice propaganda and virtue-signalling instead of solid Biblical exposition, no offense to any leftists intended; one of the members there was actually an acquaintace from my high school politics class - we often disagree but I do respect his sincerity, and we have some good discussion).

                    But here's my thought. Many now try to bring in members through making the music, the dress, the services, etcetera more popular/secular in style: they think that they can attract those in the world by making the church... less contrasting. But one individually thoroughly converted is much more important than even ten nominally converted Christians, right? Let's be honest, when people start truly searching for God they are already to a greater or lesser extent sick of what the world has to offer. They want something different. So maybe the churches should realise the value in being so contrastingly different from the world, in every way. Let the music and dress and liturgy make a statement saying that this is something elevated far above the common and earthly things all around.

                    Many churches die because they are a mere social club. If they risked their money on evangelism rather than safely storing it away to keep the building up it might be a completely different scenario.

                    Comment


                      #11
                      Originally posted by Sathrandur View Post
                      Let's be honest, when people start truly searching for God they are already to a greater or lesser extent sick of what the world has to offer. They want something different. So maybe the churches should realise the value in being so contrastingly different from the world, in every way. Let the music and dress and liturgy make a statement saying that this is something elevated far above the common and earthly things all around
                      I believe this may be the quote of the week. Very well stated.
                      Ed Kennedy
                      Current Organ - Conn 645 Theater

                      Comment


                        #12
                        Thank you for your post...

                        Originally posted by Sathrandur View Post
                        My observation is that the Tridentine Latin parishes are doing well all things considered - and some outperform many other liberal parishes. They tend to produce higher numbers of candidates for religious life too, as far as I can tell. I suspect many will travel a bit to go to a church they believe is doing things properly and with the necessary reverence.

                        Christ Church St Lawrence, Sydney? I will have to endeavour to go to Evensong there if the opportunity presents itself. If they do the Scripture readings from the Old King James Bible even better as I'm not even sure I've heard it used at the Anglican Cathedral where I am (they have a bunch of rather left-leaning greenies running it and so often the sermons are social justice propaganda and virtue-signalling instead of solid Biblical exposition, no offense to any leftists intended; one of the members there was actually an acquaintace from my high school politics class - we often disagree but I do respect his sincerity, and we have some good discussion).

                        But here's my thought. Many now try to bring in members through making the music, the dress, the services, etcetera more popular/secular in style: they think that they can attract those in the world by making the church... less contrasting. But one individually thoroughly converted is much more important than even ten nominally converted Christians, right? Let's be honest, when people start truly searching for God they are already to a greater or lesser extent sick of what the world has to offer. They want something different. So maybe the churches should realise the value in being so contrastingly different from the world, in every way. Let the music and dress and liturgy make a statement saying that this is something elevated far above the common and earthly things all around.

                        Many churches die because they are a mere social club. If they risked their money on evangelism rather than safely storing it away to keep the building up it might be a completely different scenario.
                        Sathrandur,

                        Thank you for your post and I couldn't agree more with your message!!! This is why I'm pleased with the traditional worship and its music in my church: Prince of Peace Lutheran Church (LCMS), Medina OH, USA. I've had plenty of contemporary worship experiences and I don't want it. I'm sick of what the world has to offer; I want something different! I don't want to attend a social club or support group. I'm searching for God and I do travel farther to attend a service I consider is done properly and with the necessary reverence!

                        Lloyd
                        Lloyd

                        Happily retired organist/pianist from the Church of the Brethren...Allen ADC-4300-DK.
                        Home...Wurlitzer (ES) Orgatron Series 20 Serial #11608 (retrofitted with MIDI and VPO-Hauptwerk) with Leslie 44W (shorty).
                        Hammond BC Serial #5070 with Leslie 31A (tallboy) tone cabinet
                        A.L. Swan antique pump organ (C.1852) Cherry Valley NY
                        Member of the Lutheran Church (LCMS): traditional worship. Cleveland Clinic Spiritual Care volunteer with the chaplain's office.

                        Comment


                          #13
                          Check out St. John's in Detroit on YouTube. Old high Anglican/BCP Rite 1, the church shares it's city space with the Detroit Tigers stadium and the choir sings the team's home opener anthem...in full choir robes. And man, can they sing. And can the organist PLAY. Wow.

                          - - - Updated - - -

                          BTW, I side with those who believe connection to the divine is indeed an experience larger than that of daily life and as such merits music separated from the world, or in a single word, "kadosh." Kadosh is Hebrew for "separated", or what normally translates into "holy." That which is considered holy must be by its nature separated from the mundane, otherwise it isn't holy...as circular as that sounds. The holy is diminished when one attempts to bring it "down" to the mundane. That to me screams the reasons people are finding the Tridentine rite of the Roman church compelling, despite the utter absence of any real interaction by the congregation aside from standing, sitting, kneeling and reading along in your missal, and communion if you've confessed and been absolved prior.

                          Comment


                            #14
                            Originally posted by Rivegauche610 View Post
                            Check out St. John's in Detroit on YouTube. Old high Anglican/BCP Rite 1,
                            Thanks for this pointer. I checked out some of the U-Tube pieces and am quite pleasantly surprised that the hymns are exactly what we sing in our church. The methodology seems somewhat different but the music is the same. The organist acquits his or her task very well and when I close my eyes when listening I can hear my wife play and our congregation sing in our own church! What a wonderful thing it is to share such precious music so many miles apart!

                            Nico
                            "Don't make war, make music!" Hammonds, Lowreys, Yamaha's, Gulbransens, Baldwin, Technics, Johannus. Reed organs. Details on request...

                            Comment

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