Repeat offender?


The modern church has to a greater degree dismissed spoken worship seeing it a dusty, old, vain repetition of words, week in and week out, learning by rote. Maybe those words no longer hold any real meaning? And for some they can be decidedly snooze inducing…well maybe!

I know only to well about spoken worship or liturgy, I was raised an Anglican and can still remember the words when I attend an Anglican service…but I now wonder if that is such a bad thing?

The modern church, to a greater degree, now uses sung worship and I have noticed that I am repeating these words week in week out, learning them by rote. Maybe those words no longer have any real meaning? And for some they can be decidedly snooze inducing….well maybe!

Having now been in a modern church for the last ten years or so I find myself recalling the words to the oldest songs…and I am wondering is that such a good thing?

We are certainly not expected to limit our prayers or worship lives to liturgy, prayer books or songs and tab books.

And as I have researched the Catholic, Orthodox, Anglican and Celtic traditions I have found the written prayers and songs of the Church do not limit my spiritual life but actually provide me with an underpinning or foundation for my own prayer and worship. This is something I hadn’t expected but does in fact give me something to build on as the tide of life ebbs and flows around me.

It is often argued that liturgy is vain repetition. Liturgy is without a doubt repetitive, just as the Lord's Prayer is repetitive and yet many millions are happy to say that every day. So is there a possibility that repetition can be a basis for Christian living?

I believe repetition serves to free us from the actual words of the liturgy and helps us connect to God with our souls; this is certainly one of my experiences in sung worship.

We will become familiar with the words, what is said, where it is said, and why we say it. Maybe we are then able to focus on the meaning of those words thus enabling us to free ourselves and give us a sacred space in which to connect to God?

What do you think - liturgy whether spoken or sung - vain repetition or life giving re-connection?

Marc Alton-Cooper