I enjoy sung worship, sometimes too much! My daughter accuses me of singing too loudly in church – but I am convinced that’s only really true for Be Thou My Vision. (Be Thou My Vision kills me every time. With a Bodhran accompaniment, I leave the floor.)
Anyway, I enjoy a good sing and I like it when I can give it my all. Unfortunately, this has become a problem for me at Spring Harvest in the last couple of years.
Now, I believe worship can be both a personal and a corporate, communal act. I also believe worship can be, and is often best when, accompanied by musicians.
I am somewhat less convinced, when a stage is involved and worship takes the form of a concert or a show. For one thing, I do not want to be looking at a singer or a band when I am singing to the Lord, for another, I think the worship is both less personal and less communal.
I do believe a band or artist can perform an act of worship in front of an audience, but this tends to be to the exclusion of the audience.
Now, I realise this may be my Anglicanism coming to the fore and that some churches have stages and worship leaders, but let’s just say that the marquee-based, worship-led-from-the-front thing does not really work for me at the best of times.
This gets a whole order of magnitude worse if I don’t know the tune or the words.
I will always enjoy, and feel part of a worship event if there are five or six strong, popular hymns or songs that I recognise and, optionally, one new one to get one’s teeth into.
At Spring Harvest this year, it seems to have been the other way around: I vaguely recognised one song in six and, to be honest, I wasn’t always sure of the one. So I stumbled through and this made me cross. Then I got disappointed in myself for getting cross surrounded by a tent-full of praising Christians. So, I got crosser.
Actually, forget Anglicanism, it now occurs to me I am simply getting old! I admit it, to you dear reader, and to myself, I am a middle-aged curmudgeon; a reactionary killjoy and a stick-in-the-mud.
At any rate, that’s my two grumbles about Spring Harvest 2012. I should add that they are my only two grumbles; it was a wonderful week and I thank God for those who organise it and for all those who work the events at Skegness and Minehead and for the Butlins staff.
So, next year, Spring Harvest organisers, can we please just have a few more from good ol’ Mission Praise and maybe a night of Be Thou My Vision with a Bodhran or two..?