Earlier this week blogger Mike Morrell asked “what sould emergent/emerging worship look like and sound like?”
I’m sure everyone has different ideas. Jonny Baker is big into the alt.worship scene. Others like Solomon’s Porch, are big on their community of faith writing their own songs and sharing them together. Others I know could care less what the music looks or sounds like – they’re more interested in the celebration and the sharing of stories/testimonies. They admit that their mind wanders during community singing and they may start thinking about work, home or motorcycles instead.
Either way I believe our worship should be defined as “celebrating what God is doing.”
Michael points to 4 key elements (suggested by Adam Walker Cleveland) that should be a part of “emerging worship” ::
- gender-inclusive language (esp. in our language for God)
- a shift from a I-YOU-me & God focus, and a refocusing on the community
- a passion for the biblical themes of social justice, peace and a desire to speak for the oppressed
- maybe just some more songs straight from scripture (or from saints and desert fathers), letting God’s work speak for itself, instead of pressing our own interpretation onto it, and onto the congregation that will sing the song
Some may say the words to the songs don’t mean much – but I’m a big believer that they do. When I play an artist like Derek Webb, Bob Dylan or Flobots on my Zune – their lyrics move me to action (or at least increase my desire to do something). U2‘s Sunday Bloody Sunday doesn’t allow me to sit back and ignore the violence going on in the world – it calls me to action.
And likewise, as I and others have said before, when I walk into church and only sing songs about being hungry or thirsty — I’ll probably leave feeling hungry and thirsty. But if the weight of the world is on my shoulders and I can sing songs of How Great Thou Art and How Great is Our God or other songs about the strength and might and love of my God, my burden is lightened and I’m more willing to submit control of my situation to God.
Michael points out one band that is attempting meet these four keys to emerging worship, Zehnder.
I got a copy of their album and it’s definitely a mix of musical styles. A little something for everyone perhaps. (That may be something that’s missing at encounter. We tend to lean more towards the rock or the softer acoustic/unplugged rock sound.)
On Going Up, the Zehnder brothers lyrically fit the 4 points that Michael and Adam point to, while mixing in original tunes as well as a rendition of What Wondrous Love is This. Musically I wasn’t as impressed the first time I listened to the album, but upon further listening and as the words began to sink in I’ve became more and more attracted to the music.
Musically I would say several of the songs are similar in style to Simon and Garfunkle others have more of an upbeat sound with almost a choral backing, especially on the song Rise Up ::
Rise up, feel the change!
The Resurrection comes again!
Rise up, believe the change!
We’ll never be the same again!
Spirit Born seems to have it’s musical and vocal styling influenced by Sting (download the free Mp3).
You know the wind blows, wind blows where it chooses
You hear the sound of it
But you don’t know, don’t know where it comes from
Or where it goes, it goes, it goes
Yeah, you know don’t know, don’t know where it comes from
Or where it goes, it goes, it goes
Blow through me, Wind, breathe on me, Breath, make Spirit born,
All of my soul, make Spirit born, Spirit born.
For justice I bust this flow for free
Used to be blind but now I see
Through the eyes of the elders who came before me
Like Malcolm and Martin and I can’t forget Mahatma Gandhi
Take a knee, homey / Hug an old bodhi tree
Realize how to be revolutionary
Destiny is divine when aligned with the truth
That resides deep inside that g-ride of my youth
Now I got proof of insurance and a photo ID
But I choose to tell time by Mayan prophecy – Oo, Let justice roll down…
Overall I think the Zehnder brothers have created an album that challenges us to much greater themes than much of the music you’ll hear on your local “Christian radio station.” It challenges us to think about our faith and how it impacts (or doesn’t impact) our daily lives.
I’m not sure the songs are as singable in a community settings as some that Dave Andrews has written but I definitely wouldn’t object to trying them out in a community setting.
But don’t take my word for it.
And while you wait for the album to arrive, check out their 2003 rendition of Song of Peace ::
Give the band a listen and let me know what you think.