A major part of what happened on Sundays is all about Progression. Through the course of the service the body is constantly moving. We give praise, we give glory, we pray, we take Communion, we leave. Matching music at any one of these stations is essential for music to fly on Sunday mornings.
In the ancient tabernacle of Moses, the priests would also move from one station to the next. There was an entrance into the courts (with thanksgiving), a reminder of the sacrificial lamb slain for sin, and a cleansing at the laver. From then it was a straight shot into the Holy of Holies - the trimming of lamps, nourishment from the table, and intercession before the veil. This is roughly where we want to be on Sundays, touch-pointing essential elements of worship to God, and then from God to his people.
The progression of old included everything from ecclesiastical naval gazing to flat out ecstatic worship in the Most Holy Place. That being said, there was a method to getting to the Holy One of Israel. One just couldn't by-pass all the stations. There was sin to confront, cleansing to occur, real preparation to be had before getting into intimacy.
While the tabernacle of Moses isn't strait one-on-one template of what we do on Sundays, it does provide some essential guidelines wherein we can choose music that goes with the flow.
The Gatesof the temple provide both a reminder of who God is and extol a glorious aspect of his character. This would correspond to the Processional music we choose.
The Altar of Sacrificeand Brass Laver(all in the Outer Courts) provided provision from God to the priests and people so they would be counted worthy to approach his holiness later on. This roughly relates to the hearing of the Word, the Creeds, and Sermon.
Stepping into the Holy Placeour attention turned now from Outer Courts (God ministering to us) to the Inner Courts. This is where we minister to God through our actions of Communion, Offerings, Prayers and Intercessions. During the Eucharist we have a poignant example of the things that happen in the Holy Place. This is where God nourishes us, prunes us, and where, in the privacy of the pew, we lift up our prayers as incense before the King.
The Most Holy Placeis a place of rest, awe, and communion. Having satisfied the ministry of everything that has gone before, this is that sweet time where we communion with God in the beauty of his holiness.
Leaving the temple we are invigorated with our call to mission, evangelization, and our desire to minister in the world through the witness and power of the Holy Spirit.
The prayerful worship leader (or Rector) will seek to choose music that falls within the trajectory of any given place in the liturgy.
Got a song of invitation (such as Come to the Altar)? Do that at the Offertory. God a song that lifts praise to God just because of who he is and not petitioning anything but just giving him glory for no good reason (like Holy is the Lord)? Do that at the Gloria. Got a song that reminds us to fulfill the Great Commission in the world (like Go Forth in His Name)? Then do that at the Recessional. To do anything else would cause liturgical angst in the overall flow and progression of the service. And at the end of the day, you will know that you have led your people around the courts of the Temple in ways that cover the fulness of the spectrum, and not only one aspect of the greater whole.
While syncing music with parts of the liturgy doesn't always work, it's a good start. I want you to start thinking of the lyrical content of the songs you're brining to the worship platform on any given Sunday - a great start. Next BLOG we'll look at the various parts of the service and more clearly define how you can prophetically choose music for a snug fit in your Sunday morning service.