September 28, 2019

Rhythms of Life in God: A Percussion Eucharistic Liturgy

Music is a universal human experience. It has a deep resonance in the human spirit, connecting individuals and communities to mystery, holiness, beauty, joy, sorrow, and the divine. The earliest forms of music were most likely percussion, and even in our world of sophisticated musical developments, drums and percussion stir us in ways we cannot fully explain.

Christian worship is almost always a musical experience. Great liturgies tend to do two things at once: Unite the individual worshipper with God and form a community united with God as one. This communal and individual experience of God is what makes worship such a profound human activity. For Christians, this unity with God and one another comes through the grace of Christ by the power of the Spirit. Christian worship, therefore, creates a community through the good news of Jesus Christ. Worship almost always includes Scripture, preaching, prayer, and sacraments, but without music to convey and support these great things of worship, the power and depth of experience is often not there.

I created this percussion liturgy with the notion that comes from many African cultures: music is a communal experience, and communal experiences are musical. In particular, drumming, percussion, and rhythm create a unique opportunity to experience community. One drummer’s rhythm will play on some beats and leave spaces on others. Those spaces are where others add their rhythms. The whole created by these layerings of rhythms express this wonderfully complex understanding that community creates space for each person, and each person participates in and experiences something greater than any individual.

This eucharistic liturgy invites communal participation through drums and other percussion, hand clapping, foot tapping, singing, and dancing. Whether you are a professional musician, a hobbyist like me, or someone who enjoys music but you’re not sure you have rhythm or tonality, this liturgy invites you to participate, find joy in community and in God by sharing in the rhythms of life, knowing there is space for you here.

The score for this liturgy will be available soon. A video of each part of the liturgy can be seen here. These are from the premiere of the liturgy at First English Lutheran Church in Austin, Texas, on September 24, 2019






Lamb of God

Fed and Loved

September 25, 2019

Eucharistic Prayer for Percussion Liturgy

In 2019 I wrote Rhythms of Life in God: A Percussion Eucharistic Liturgy. I wrote this prayer for use with the liturgy.

Holy and mysterious God,
in the beginning you created light
pulsing with all the colors of the universe.
You moved Miriam to dance in your liberation
and Moses to sing with your justice.
Through the prophets you reminded your people
to welcome the immigrant,
care for women and children,
and include everyone in your music of mercy.

Through Jesus you reached out to all peoples
and invited them into your way.
He walked the earth
to the beat of your drums of equity and grace.
He lifted up the poor with cadences of hope.
He invited everyone to celebrate the rhythms of life in you.
Facing those who rejected your radical inclusion,
he gave his life
so that all have a place at the table.

In the night in which he was betrayed,
our Lord Jesus took bread, and gave thanks;
broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying:
Take and eat; this is my body, given for you.
Do this for the remembrance of me.

Again, after supper, he took the cup, gave thanks,
and gave it for all to drink, saying:
This cup is the new covenant in my blood,
shed for you and for all people for the forgiveness of sin.
Do this for the remembrance of me.

Let us proclaim the paschal mystery of life:
Christ has died. Christ is risen. Christ will come again.

Send your dynamic Spirit upon us
to make our hearts pulse with your life.
Compose us with rhythms of justice and mercy.
Bless this bread and wine with Jesus’ presence now
and make this table a welcoming place for all gathered here.
With bodies and minds, voices and instruments,
we give you all praise and thanks
creative and wonderful God,
in Christ Jesus,
by the Spirit’s stirring,
until all things are united
in your eternal circle of love.