It’s been a while since I’ve written anything here, and it looks like it might be some time still before I begin writing regularly again. However, I downloaded a worship album this weekend that is so moving and beautiful that I knew I needed to say a bit more about it than could be properly said through a tweet or Facebook post.
The Liturgy and The Shout is a collection of songs that have been created by the people who lead worship at the Renovatus Church. It’s a rich tapestry of sound and faith that is worth your time to listen to and explore. Many people, people more knowledgeable about music and leading worship, might weigh in about The Liturgy and the Shout differently, but I’m looking to highlight three features of the album that have stayed with me as I have listened, almost exclusively, to The Liturgy and The Shout over the past couple of days.
Music That Draws You In
First of all, the music of The Liturgy and The Shout is beautiful. It’s at times haunting and at times joyous, but it always envelopes you. The richness of the sound draws you in and, as music has the power to do, moves you into the experience of the song. In a way that is difficult to describe, I get the sense that regardless of what was going on emotionally in a person, they could find a way into these songs. I’m likely not alone when I say I have experienced corporate worship where the congregation seemed to leave me behind as it moved forward into some emotional or spiritual state into which I was not able or prepared to follow. There’s such a mix of joy and reverence and humility dancing through these tracks, working alongside one another for the sake of worship, that The Liturgy and The Shout simply offers ample “on ramps” for the listener to join the experience. I’d never really considered how important this characteristic can be when a group of people gather to worship, and the fact that this album has highlighted it is a testimony to its brilliance. Put simply, it’s just good music. It’s musicians, working their craft to create something beautiful and moving that invites you to join in.
Words Worthy for Worship
Something inside of me shouts for joy because the writing on The Liturgy and The Shout seems to take seriously the task of crafting words for the purpose of worshiping the Almighty God. The songs are able to be poetic without being obscure; they are able to be clear without being sterile or trite. Amazingly, they seem old, almost ancient, without being stale at all. The best way to describe this, I think, is to say that these songs have roots. They are connected to the long history of the church, but they are blossoming in very real ways for today. The artistry and the consideration given to the words of the album invite “us” to share in a corporate expression of worship that stretches back into the past, and to do so with our hearts and our heads fully engaged. That, for me, is a blessing.
A Community’s Work
What I find most striking about the whole thing, is that I get the sense right away that these songs have grown up out of the community at Renovatus. While they are accessible to someone like myself who has listened to only a dozen Renovatus sermons via the Internet, they are also very particular to this community. They come from the people of the church. They seemed to have used no template for what these songs needed to become, other than the template God has given their community in the shape of the people of Renovatus. This album has a flesh and blood context and that is moving.
Speaking from my own context as a part of the Church of God (Anderson, IN), I would love to see churches in our movement doing this sort of work in our own context. It is, after all, exactly what the folks in the Church of God Reformation Movement used to do. We have entire sections in hymnals today that are dedicated to the “Heritage Hymns” and they, like The Liturgy and The Shout, grew out of the convictions of the people of the Church of God, and they expressed the stories of what God had done in their midst at the time they were written. I would love to see this catch on and see more churches, big and small, seek to create songs that marked out the story that God has given them to tell. My hope is that lots of folks will hear this album, buy it, love it, be moved by it, and then go and find the voice in their own community and create something totally different, but equally as honoring to the Lord.