Something I've noticed, that I hear more friends commenting on anecdotally, is the lack of singing at Christenings, Weddings and Funerals.
We're in the midst of our latest deccenial UK census and it will be interesting to see where things have trended over the last 10 years. Previous statistics show the decline of involvement in the UK in organised religion, with only 7.5% of the population attending Church (which includes people who just attend at christmas and easter). Midweek in church involvement was measured at 0.9%, which is possibly a nearer marker of those actively involved in Christian faith with others for the UK.
Anyway you slice and dice the statistics, the UK has very low Church involvement. Yet there is a persistent and continuing attachment to Christianity, in that 20% of Children are baptised/christened, and 97% of funerals are religious, with a priest and worship. And all this whilst Weddings in Church have been down to 40% of those taking place. So the UK seems to have been a country where people have little to do with Christianity and Church, but increasingly want children baptised, and a religious funeral.
It will be interesting to see what the latest census shows in relation to this trend.
I'm not delving into why that might be (of why the Church is reduced to providing religious services for births, marriages and especially death) but instead wonder how that residual attachment produces something quite dissonant in the worship that takes place at those events.
For it seems more and more 'normal' to attend a funeral, wedding and christening, and for the parties involved to choose hymns that seem to have no connection to the service other than selection based on a vestigial memory of scant worship experiences. For despite most people turning to Church for a funeral, increasingly the people involved have no history of practiced worship to draw on, apart from a handful of hymns possibly remembered from school assemblies. And with the decline in school assemblies, and any organisation that might expose people to Christian worship, we seem to be spiralling into a context where the only time people sing a worship song is at a christening, marriage or funeral. And with that fissiparous process continuing, is it sustainable?
I've stood at the front of a funeral service, leading the service and worship and realised that other than myself and my wife, no-one is singing the hymns that the family has chosen. Because they don't know the hymns, and have no experience of sung worship to draw on. That's not a chastisement, rather an observation.
Yet the power of singing, the need of human beings to join with each other to express and share life with each other remains undimmed. If you don't believe me watch the T-Mobile video above.