September 2010

So I’m writing an essay on A Service of the Word, and the whole Patterns for Worship thing. A bit like email and the iPod it seems as if ASOTW has been around for ever, and, liturgically at least, it’s been a similar kind of game-changer.

It would be great to know what you do with yours…have you used its provisions for a special service, your daily office, an all-age service, something seasonal? Has it worked for you? Might it do other stuff?

Did it change your life?

Let me know by commenting here, or sending me an email:

Thanks 🙂

Allowed myself a wry smile when I read in today’s Church Times that Stuart Townend’s In Christ Alone is in the top 5 most popular hymns.

Two reasons: last week’s Songs of Praise saw me singing it meaningfully in full close up (and cope); and…we weren’t allowed to sing it in York Minster because the Archbishop was conscious of the difficult line “on the cross where Jesus died/the wrath of God was satisfied”.

Various people would request it though, and I emailed Stuart Townend to ask whether he would allow any of the changes people make – eg “the love of God was magnified”. An excellent conversation ensued – the short version being “no dice. The satisfaction of the wrath of God is not outside Scripture.”  Indeed, it’s also right there in one of the “historic formularies” of the Church of England, the Communion Service in the Book of Common Prayer. I pray every week about Jesus Christ making “satisfaction…for the sins of the whole world.”

It’s vital to get our theology right. A great tune can mask some appalling doctrine. Some denominations spend ages on their hymnals to ensure that we don’t sing stuff which will lead us astray. It’s always interested me that the C of E, which spends ages on its liturgy for the same reason, doesn’t do so with its hymnody. I’m not going to go into the whole penal substitution thing, except to say that I agree with Stuart Townend that it’s not outside Scripture, and is one of the images of atonement which have susatained the Church through the ages.

But it’s only one of them, and, if you like, it’s at the extreme edge of the spectrum. So let’s hope someone can write something as catchy and profound as In Christ Alone which can encapsulate some of the other images of salvation: of the lost being found, the price paid, the debtor redeemed, the slave set free, the broken healed, creation restored. There’s lots of that already, and there is room for more as long as there are worshippers in earth and heaven.

Just for fun – uselful though if you want to make a point about the way liturgical language changes. I don’t know where it came from …you can sing it to any traditional chant

A Modern Psalm 23 – Pointed for Traditional Chant.

1. The Lord and I are in a /shepherd – / sheep situation,
and I am in a pos / ition of / negative need.

2. He prostrates me in a / green belt /grazing area;
he conducts me directionally parallel to non-torr / ential / aqueous liquid.

3. He returns to original satisfaction levels my psycho / logi * cal / make-up;
He switches me on to a positive behavioural format  for maximal prest / ige of his i / dentity.

4. It should indeed be said that  not-withstanding the fact that I make ambulatory progress through the umbrageous inter- / hill mortality slot,
terror sensations will not be instantiated within me   due to / para / ethi * cal phe / nomena.

2nd part

5. Your pastoral walking aid    and quadruped pickup unit introduce me into a pleasur / ific / mood-state:
You design and produce a nutrient-bearing furniture-type structure   in the context of  / non-co-/ opera * tive / elements.

6. You act out a head-related folk ritual    employing / vege / table / extract;
my beverage utensil ex /periences * a / volume / crisis.

7. It is an ongoing deductible fact    that your inter-relational empathetical and non-vengeance capabilities will retain me as their target focus for the duration of my / non-death / period;

and I will possess tenant rights in the housing unit of the lord on a permanently / open- / ended / time basis.

Let an honourable, exalted and prosperous state of notoriety be attributed to the male parent figure accruing also to His immediate descendant in the / male / line:

and to the sanctified non-cor / pore *al person * al /entity.

In such manner as was circumstantial at the initialisation,

is contemporaneous with our terrestrial experience period,

and is due to con / tinue  * in / terminably;

cessation of the totality of trans-temporal existence
/ being * unfore / seen. Ag / reed!