To celebrate our 275th anniversary as a congregation, we have been worshipping with elements from previous hymnals this Easter season. As we’ve done this, I have been struck by how much worship has changed, especially over the past two generations. This surprised me because I consider our church relatively traditional. I have a great deal more sympathy for those of an older generation, who grew up using the Black and Red book, and who may struggle with elements in our worship service today. Consider how the following elements of worship have undergone changes.
|B & R book||Today|
|Instrument||Exclusively organ||Organ, but also piano, drums and even guitar|
|Hymns||Often German chorales with 4-part harmony||Many Methodist/"American" hymns, but global hymns often written for unison singing|
|Baptism||Mainly infants||People of all ages; appears more frequently in lectionary and liturgy|
|Confession and Forgiveness||Intense rite with conditional absolution||Unconditional absolution; perhaps no C&F, perhaps Thanksgiving for Baptism instead|
|Holy Communion||Handful of times per year; for confirmands||Every week; for children, some congregations Baptism optional|
|Participation by lay people|
|Role of pastor||Pastor reads, prayers and preaches||Number of people involved in almost every aspect of worship|
|Role of choir||Choir leads
primary way to be involved
|One of many ways to be involved in worship|
|Volume||Silence permeates worship, including before service||Social aspect of church emphasized, e.g., Passing of the Peace|
|Script||Stick to what is written in worship book||Pastors, even lay people, more likely to deviate from Rubric/Script, or not even use one|
|Piety||Inward and repentant||Therapeutic and Praise|
Perhaps when commenting on piety, I come too close to offering my own diagnosis here instead of simply laying out the facts. We cannot turn back time and I am not suggesting this. Yet as we move forward in our congregation (and likely others as well), it is really helpful to remember that long time members of this (and other congregations) have experienced significant shifts in their lifetime of how God is worshiped in our sanctuary. We may still have a traditional worship, but it is markedly different than the traditional worship of 1960.