Liturgy

GiancarloZ

You can also call me Karl
Messages
911
Reaction score
568
As I try to find my way among the Canadian denominations, I have been thinking a lot about liturgy. Sometimes I enjoy old and elaborate liturgies such as the Great Vigil of Easter, but generally I prefer a drier order of service. Certain elements are very important to me, such as the Apostolic greeting, Confession and Absolution, and the recitation of a creed and the Lord's prayer. Other elements are negotiable. But I always enjoy a predictable order of service.

What about you? Do you like a fixed liturgy? And of which kind? Why or why not?
 

Mendalla

Eastern Lowland Gorilla
Messages
26,883
Reaction score
14,464
I like a liturgy that has a basic structure, but has some play in it so you can tinker and twiddle knobs without breaking things. My old UU fellowship was like this during my day of involvement in worship. When I yanked out the sermon and reading and replaced them with four people doing short readings with reflections on those readings, things still moved along just fine. When I scattered readings of creation myths throughout the service and then did a short homily on the Big Bang as a modern creation myth, things still moved along just fine. When the choir was singing (one service a month in those days), we could slip in an "anthem" or two without really changing much else. And so on. I would find it hard to work in a very rigid liturgy, but also in one that was totally free-form.

And I can't really show you what I mean just now. When I get home, I can dig out one of my old services so I can refresh myself on it. And it did evolve over time and ministers. In particular, things like the Greeting Time (= "Passing the Peace" in Christian terms) tended to move around and the number of hymns and their placement varied (e.g. when I started, we sang 2 hymns plus "Spirit of Life" as a kind of UU "doxology" but later that went away and was replaced by a third hymn).
 

GiancarloZ

You can also call me Karl
Messages
911
Reaction score
568
It seems pretty good - having a basic structure and still having the time to try and experiment new elements. I think it speaks to my "style".
 

BetteTheRed

Resident Heretic
Messages
14,438
Reaction score
7,968
Ours is generally quite structured, although a bit different than yours. As described by Mendalla, it's amenable to some movement/flexibility. For instance, in Lent, we focused on doing/being, so finished each service in a meditative "being" sort of way, with a couple of Taize type repetitive choruses, and a short guided meditation in between. So as not to distract from that, we moved the offering, "joys and sorrows" (which adds to the pre-printed "prayer list") and the prayers of the people, normally in the "closing section", to the "opening section".

We rarely say even the New Creed, and the Lord's Prayer is more monthly than weekly, and usually a less familiar translation/interpretation of the prayer. Also, we don't talk about confession and forgiveness, but we have a Prayer of Accountability, followed by an Affirmation.
 

revjohn

Well-Known Member
Messages
7,130
Reaction score
5,579
GiancarloZ said:
What about you? Do you like a fixed liturgy? And of which kind? Why or why not?
My biggest beef by a country mile with respect to liturgy is narration.

If you need to explain what you mean by a word you chose to include. The liturgy fails. If you have to throw in countless anecdotes explaining liturgical choices made you are a disaster as a liturgist.

If the liturgy doesn't flow, be it high or low forms, then the liturgy fails.

If you put an order of service before me that you as presider will not honour then you have no business leading.

There are liturgical elements I appreciate and love. If they are missing on occasion I can deal with that. If they are routinely ignored I will look elsewhere unless I can find a way to satisfy my need myself.

There are language choices I wouldn't make. That isn't a deal breaker for me until that language choice is put into a mouth that I know did not speak it.

Fixed liturgies ensure we stay on the same page. In that they excel. Fixed liturgies do not mine the depths of scripture or tradition. In that they get stale and fail to inspire.

Liturgical forms can tolerate some change from season to season.

Where I am likely most liturgically rigid is with the Sacraments of Baptism and Holy Communion. In particular how the cup is referenced in the Holy Communion Liturgy is the most theologically contentious bit.

So far presiders who make the theologically poor choice have never noted my displeasure or I am really good at hiding it.

I've had opportunity to participate in precise liturgies and free-for-all liturgies. I appreciate the order of the one over the chaos of the other.
 

Luce NDs

Well-Known Member
Messages
41,642
Reaction score
3,609
Sounds like life is all in order for you John.

Others find an emmanance of chaos ... for better or worse I believe there will be change ... and someone will try an make order out of the smoke & situation and find there it was ... gone! Of this I am reasonably uncertain ...

In short liturgy: "What do we really know when we idolize nothing?"

I've said many times my grandfather said that love was nothing and from other sources God is love ... or perhaps when you lose all but thoughts as the opposition from the passionate domain despises thoughts, knowledge and wisdom on any topical order that surfaces!

This may cause turbulent flows in the established realm of orders ... then the light was gone ... "don't look son!" The rosy glow appeared as the sun went down ... it's midnight sun ... as all is quiet, listening to your escaping concepts ...
 
Last edited:

revjohn

Well-Known Member
Messages
7,130
Reaction score
5,579
Luce NDs said:
Sounds like life is all in order for you John.
If it were I'd probably treat it with contempt since it would be what I am most familiar with.

Alas that is not the case.

Order and discipline are ideals to which I aspire not realities which surround me.

Luce NDs said:
Others find an emmanance of chaos
I wouldn't entertain the notion of suggesting otherwise.

Luce NDs said:
for better or worse I believe there will be change
Only a fool would bet against change in the long run. Betting on immediate change instantly to our liking is another way fools are easily parted from their money.

Luce NDs said:
and someone will try an make order out of the smoke & situation
Or, at the very least, incorporate smoke into the liturgy.

Luce NDs said:
In short liturgy: "What do we really know when we idolize nothing?"


That we might not make idols out of anything. I wouldn't bet on that though.
 

Luce NDs

Well-Known Member
Messages
41,642
Reaction score
3,609
If it were I'd probably treat it with contempt since it would be what I am most familiar with.

Alas that is not the case.

Order and discipline are ideals to which I aspire not realities which surround me.



I wouldn't entertain the notion of suggesting otherwise.



Only a fool would bet against change in the long run. Betting on immediate change instantly to our liking is another way fools are easily parted from their money.



Or, at the very least, incorporate smoke into the liturgy.



That we might not make idols out of anything. I wouldn't bet on that though.
Thus set infinite goals to be cognizant of ... and the story thus becomes ongoing ... some are fixed that learning is mortal i.e. limited! They've learned all they desired to ...

I had a minister when I was young that used to preach that knowledge and making love was evil. He had a large family that was well educated ... thus their sense of competition was diminished. I have been told that I didn't experience that ... by people that know nothing about my experiences. Does that prove senseless projection?
Now I am greatly interested in social psychology and the social variations that may cause turbulence in our private wee bit of the whole realm. Then I get the response that the psyche doesn't exist here and there is nothing beyond the present sphere of cognizance.

Is that an off-hand conclusion about virtuous unknowns? These people don;t believe there is nothing that they don;t know ... and some great & strange power put them here to cause stir ... gravitas? (that word has an curious definition)

Would a smoking liturgy indicate there is some pyre at the base of the item of interest and ... many would be ignoring the lesson anyway as they believed they knew the whole perspective. Allows world perspective as parallel to global concerns ... and divine observations as bifurcated!

Present them with something really questionable to see if they find it a matter to arouse doubt! Other wise they are dead to NU things ... like some world powers of corruption!
 

GiancarloZ

You can also call me Karl
Messages
911
Reaction score
568
My biggest beef by a country mile with respect to liturgy is narration.

If you need to explain what you mean by a word you chose to include. The liturgy fails. If you have to throw in countless anecdotes explaining liturgical choices made you are a disaster as a liturgist.

If the liturgy doesn't flow, be it high or low forms, then the liturgy fails.

If you put an order of service before me that you as presider will not honour then you have no business leading.

There are liturgical elements I appreciate and love. If they are missing on occasion I can deal with that. If they are routinely ignored I will look elsewhere unless I can find a way to satisfy my need myself.

There are language choices I wouldn't make. That isn't a deal breaker for me until that language choice is put into a mouth that I know did not speak it.

Fixed liturgies ensure we stay on the same page. In that they excel. Fixed liturgies do not mine the depths of scripture or tradition. In that they get stale and fail to inspire.

Liturgical forms can tolerate some change from season to season.

Where I am likely most liturgically rigid is with the Sacraments of Baptism and Holy Communion. In particular how the cup is referenced in the Holy Communion Liturgy is the most theologically contentious bit.

So far presiders who make the theologically poor choice have never noted my displeasure or I am really good at hiding it.

I've had opportunity to participate in precise liturgies and free-for-all liturgies. I appreciate the order of the one over the chaos of the other.
Agree to most of your statements, especially about Holy Communion, Baptism, and the narration.
The flow of the liturgy - it may be a simple liturgy, but must flow graciously - and the quality of the sermon are the key elements of a good service for me. Not as easy to find as it seems.
 

Jobam

Well-Known Member
Messages
265
Reaction score
99
Thank you for this post. A good friend of mine, a retired Anglican Bishop and I have many talks on liturgy and the formats of worship service. He started out in the United Church as a member, and at a certain time of his life, he was invited into the Anglican church and fell in love with the liturgy etc. He and I have wonderful discussions as we come from different vantage points. They are struggling with the same things we do: budgets, older congregations etc. However, we often come back to congregational life and worship.

Let's consider worship/liturgy the same for simplicity's sake. How does the worship style at your church reflect your congregation rather than that of the person leading it? The question I ask most of the time is why we do something and who dreamed it up? It amazes me that the person leading communion, for example, spends so much time crafting the liturgy for the service, while the local church board is more concerned about how the elements are dispersed/served. After communion, during the service, ask your congregation what they got out of the communion service. Anglicans have communion every Sunday, in the United Church, we are supposed to have it at least 4 times a year. Does anyone assess if the liturgy is meeting the needs of the congregation? How does your church decide if the worship service is meeting the needs of the people and if it isn't how are changes to it worked out?
 

GiancarloZ

You can also call me Karl
Messages
911
Reaction score
568
Does anyone assess if the liturgy is meeting the needs of the congregation? How does your church decide if the worship service is meeting the needs of the people and if it isn't how are changes to it worked out?
That's probably more of a United Church than an Anglican or Lutheran question. Anglicans and Lutherans generally used authorized liturgies - Lutherans from the Evangelical Lutheran Worship, Anglicans form either the Book of Common Prayer or the Book of Alternative Services. Having a fixed liturgy has its pros and cons - it's good to have uniformity, predictability, and be familiar with the service. It can get boring and inflexible, though. I'm in favor of mixing stuff. I agree with you, though, that most parishioners are never asked about liturgy. Anglicans and Lutherans probably expect the authorized ones to be the rule, but for United Church people there can be a very different perspective.
 

BetteTheRed

Resident Heretic
Messages
14,438
Reaction score
7,968
We have a worship team that is very responsive to the needs of the congregation, and we're currently blessed with a minister who is, imho, a liturgical genius (she comes from a family of ministers - 3 gens back and one of her two sibs - and her mother was a high school drama teacher). Direct requests from the congregation, or from other teams, have resulted in some tweaks. We say the Lord's Prayer fairly regularly - at least twice a month, but it's rarely the official version, but often the preferred Jim Cotter version. We still have a "Prayer of Confession" and "Absolution", but they're called "Prayer of Accountability" and "Affirmation". Music is always a nightmare, but we've pretty well restricted hymns over 100 years old to one per service, and it's labelled the "Heritage Hymn". We make excellent and careful use of power point and three large projection screens to support the liturgy (and keep the singing focussed outwards and not into hymnals, lol; it's amazing how much better it sounds). We have communion monthly, coming to the front for it a little more often than passing it in the pews.

Edited to note that I'd forgotten I'd said some of this upthread. Love the sound of me own voice, do I.
 

Jobam

Well-Known Member
Messages
265
Reaction score
99
We have a worship team that is very responsive to the needs of the congregation, and we're currently blessed with a minister who is, imho, a liturgical genius (she comes from a family of ministers - 3 gens back and one of her two sibs - and her mother was a high school drama teacher). Direct requests from the congregation, or from other teams, have resulted in some tweaks. We say the Lord's Prayer fairly regularly - at least twice a month, but it's rarely the official version, but often the preferred Jim Cotter version. We still have a "Prayer of Confession" and "Absolution", but they're called "Prayer of Accountability" and "Affirmation". Music is always a nightmare, but we've pretty well restricted hymns over 100 years old to one per service, and it's labelled the "Heritage Hymn". We make excellent and careful use of power point and three large projection screens to support the liturgy (and keep the singing focussed outwards and not into hymnals, lol; it's amazing how much better it sounds). We have communion monthly, coming to the front for it a little more often than passing it in the pews.

Edited to note that I'd forgotten I'd said some of this upthread. Love the sound of me own voice, do I.
That's awesome.

That's cool. I wonder how it works for those who don't have worship team/committee?
 

BetteTheRed

Resident Heretic
Messages
14,438
Reaction score
7,968
How many United Churches don't have Worship Teams? I mean, I guess the really tiny ones don't. I thought many churches used the "unified board model" from the Manual.
 

Jobam

Well-Known Member
Messages
265
Reaction score
99
How many United Churches don't have Worship Teams? I mean, I guess the really tiny ones don't. I thought many churches used the "unified board model" from the Manual.
No, for example, at our church we have a council, however, we also belong to a cluster so M&P, Worship are the responsibility of the cluster.

I know that our worship committee is made up of the four organists from the 4 churches.

Lots of people are really not interested in worship or anything is fine with them. I say that as most people are really complacent about worship...we've always done it that way....LOL.

A test - ask people to invite people to church. Do they? If not, why not. I can tell you that I wouldn't invite people to my congregation, not because of the people, but the lack of energy in the congregation and worship service. If you are lucky enough to have worship that the congregation enjoys then your are probably a thriving congregation with a good mix of ages. This is not the norm in the United Church of Canada.
 

Mendalla

Eastern Lowland Gorilla
Messages
26,883
Reaction score
14,464
My UU fellowship went from a UCCan-style worship committee to just a small team (sometimes just me and the minister) to a group called Worship Weavers that was less formal but did most of the same work as the old worship committee. Worship, including liturgy, was always a collaborative effort between worship committee/team/weavers, the minister, and the people who volunteered to lead worship on the minister's "off Sundays". Leaders, including ministers, definitely had freedom to tinker and play with liturgy to make it suit their theme though major or permanent changes were discussed ahead of time.
 

GiancarloZ

You can also call me Karl
Messages
911
Reaction score
568
Worship, including liturgy, was always a collaborative effort between worship committee/team/weavers, the minister, and the people who volunteered to lead worship on the minister's "off Sundays"
Liturgy literally means "the work of the people" in Greek. Very appropriate.
 

Jobam

Well-Known Member
Messages
265
Reaction score
99
Liturgy literally means "the work of the people" in Greek. Very appropriate.
It's interesting - the most recognized part of the church is worship - and yet - we don't have the work of the people involved. The United Church has tones of resources for folks to use so they don't have to create anything new if they don't want. While appreciated, in most cases worship is outside the average person's reach. The same old style of I talk you listen is the format most often used.
 

mgagnonlv

Well-Known Member
Messages
165
Reaction score
106
Anglicans and Lutherans generally used authorized liturgies - Lutherans from the Evangelical Lutheran Worship, Anglicans form either the Book of Common Prayer or the Book of Alternative Services...
There is still plenty to choose, including:
– Eucharist or Morning Prayer? Old English or New English... or French?
– Which Eucharistic Prayer?
– What style of music, how much?

I am aware of one Anglican parish with a committee made of the clergy, lay readers and other key members with a specific interest in liturgy. In most cases, it's either tradition or the preferences of the rector with comments from a few vocal parishioners, so it's definitely a case of "squeaky wheel gets the grease".

I can speak of a former parish that had its weekly Eucharist, except once a month when it was the old style Morning Prayer. We tried many times to remove it or at least decrease it's frequency, and the rector objected citing tradition and the fact "most parishioners would object". Yet I was aware of 2-3 very vocal parishioners who would have objected... and attendance dropped by 2/3 on such Sundays: in other words, people voted with their feet but nobody listened.
 
Top