Music & Worship

“‘Ah, music,’ [Dumbledore] said, wiping his eyes. ‘A magic far beyond all we do here!'”

– Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

The Harry Potter binge continues; I’m now on book 4, but #1 still has my heart.  How can you not give a hearty “Amen!” to this sort of one-line-gem?  There’s much to be said about the power of music, studies to cite of the effect of melodious sound on heart rate and personal stories about how hearing a particular song immediately shifts one’s mood or triggers a memory; Emile Durkheim could even chime in, noting music’s power in creating the all-explaining “collective effervescence.”

Having held Dumbledore’s quotation with me this week, turning it over in my mind with special reference to worship, an embodiment of what I’d been trying to understand and articulate was plopped into my lap this morning:

A recent prayer practice in the Hylden household has included the book, Common Prayer: A Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals.  In Anglican Daily Office-like format, this book provides a liturgy for Morning Prayer every day of the year, often building its service around modern saints (today was Septima Poinsette Clark).  In every service, a song is included to be sung about where the Invitatory psalm would be said (or chanted) in the morning office. Though I’ve chanted Morning Prayer before, this book’s services include a variety of 50-some familiar melodies (from the first verses of favorite hymns, like, “Amazing Grace,” “All Creatures of Our God and King,” and “Be Thou My Vision,” to songs like “Solid Rock,” “Servant Song,”), which are more forgiving to froggy morning throats and, at least for me and my family, tap into a bit of that personal-story-memory.  Adding just a bit of music to the morning–joining voices together to sing and worship, nonetheless–has transformed the prayers.

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