Thinking allowed

worship or performance

This week’s edit­or­i­al at Anglic­ans Online pon­ders the ques­tion When is a ser­vice wor­ship and when is it per­form­ance?.

Our friend enjoys the cleans­ing end-of-the-day, begin­ning-of-the-week feel to Com­pline on Sunday even­ings. She, like us, views the ser­vices of the Daily Office as wor­ship­ful expres­sions of our beliefs and faith. Ima­gine her sur­prise when she sat down with the pew sheet: The second word on the inside cov­er was ‘per­form­ance’.

Com­pline as per­form­ance? She brought us the pew sheet. We read it through. Unfor­tu­nately, this time the sung ser­vice of Com­pline seemed to be replaced with a con­cert based on Com­pline. Soloists were named, a long bio­graph­ic­al sketch of the con­duct­or was included. No men­tion was made of the his­tory or role of Com­pline in the wor­ship life of our tra­di­tion. No men­tion of wel­com­ing the con­greg­a­tion to a time of pray­er. Per­haps we are being too picky. Per­haps it is enough the ser­vice is being offered no mat­ter the circumstances.

We were left to pon­der: When is a ser­vice wor­ship and when is it per­form­ance? Does it mat­ter? Should it matter?


Cathedral Evensong

Gerry Lynch writes Why is Cathed­ral Even­song Grow­ing and What Does It Mean? — an art­icle that was pub­lished in the May/June 2014 edi­tion of Salis­bury Cathed­ral News.

He con­cludes:

Even­song is not neces­sar­ily undemand­ing. It gives tre­mend­ous space for daily study of Scrip­ture, and dis­cip­lined pray­er sus­tain­ing a life of Chris­ti­an service.

Maybe Chor­al Even­song needs to grow in depth and geo­graphy. Can we help more par­ish churches provide a week­day Even­song, per­haps weekly in lar­ger towns and monthly in rur­al areas? And can we help people grow in depth and know­ledge of faith when we see them mainly across the choir on Tues­day nights, and nev­er on a Sunday?