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