Boesenecker, Andy and Jim Graeser. A Field Guide to Contemporary Worship: How to Begin and Lead Band-Based Worship. Minneapolis: Augsburg Fortress, 2011. 220 Pages. Paper $24.99. www.augsburgfortress.org (LH)
Yazykova, Irina. Translated by Paul Griener. Foreword by Wendy R. Salmond. Hidden and Triumphant: The Underground Struggle to Save Russian Iconography. Brewster, MA: Paraclete Press, 2010. 196 Pages. Cloth. $26.99. www.paracletepress.com (LHP)
Chapell, Bryan. Christ-Centered Worship: Letting the Gospel Shape Our Practice. Grand Rapids: Baker, 2009. 320 Pages. Cloth. $24.99. www.bakeracademic.com (LHP)
Stapert, Calvin, R. Handel's Messiah: Comfort for God's People. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2010. 187 Pages. Paper. $14.99. www.eerdmans.com (LH)
As I mentioned before, I am not interested in forming a pop/rock band for charismatic American Evangelical revival-based "worship" entertainment. The advice of the authors will help you in leading a group of musicians and singers. Organists, pianists, and other players and singers need a substantial repertoire and should have efficient and regular rehearsals. Read the first half of the book with your actual congregation, hymnal, and musicians in mind. You will find some good advice here.
Curious about icons in the Eastern Church? Consider this compact and fascinating volume from Paraclete.
Icons are not drawn or painted. They are written. I consider them beautiful stylized devotional art, not something to "pray through." My theology of the icon is different as a Lutheran from that of the Orthodox. Even so, I see how this ancient tradition of a "visible" Gospel helped keep Christianity alive in Russia and many of the satellite nations of the former USSR during the age of godless Communism. What in American Christianity could do the same for us? Food for thought.
To be a living organism, the Church can never simply live off an inheritance of the past--it must in every age, strive to say something new and bear witness in its own way. And the turning point for modern Russia came in 1988, when the Russian nation celebrated the millennium of the baptism of Russia. Although officially the Soviet regime came to an end only in 1991, it was 1988 that demonstrated that the regime was already dead. The Communist Party, to be sure, still held the reigns of power. And yet despite this fact, the Christian baptism of Russia was celebrated across the entire nation. Soviet officials strove to impart a purely cultural meaning on the event, but the nation's leaders were obliged to acknowledge that Russian culture had itself been formed, to a great extent, by Eastern Christianity (121).
LHP QBR plans to offer a second review of this volume by itself in the near future.
Bryan Chapell builds bridges between Christians with regard to worship with this 2009 book.
The author explains the motivation and need behind this book for himself:
Chapell meets the goals he sets for the book. Lutherans and Reformed Christians will disagree about obvious and well-known historical theological and practical differences, but this president of a PCA seminary provides common ground for Lutherans, Calvinists, and others.
I particularly appreciated both the historic and modern examples of worship structures and elements provided by the author in an engaging, intentional, and Christ-centered way. He largely resists the temptation to call Luther's Reformation and liturgies inferior to those of John Calvin. Lutherans won't go to Chapell for their Eucharistic theology, either.
Bryan Chapell provides constructive help to ending the so-called worship wars by letting the Gospel shape our practice (as Luther did) in Christ-Centered Worship.
Controversy reigned about worship in the days of Handel. Calvin Stapert's volume, Handel's Messiah: Comfort for God's People is enlightening essential reading and is by far the best book by Eerdmans I have personally read in years!
Handel is an eighteenth-century German Lutheran composer that invented an oratorio tradition in protestant England, because of the influence of a devotional movement in sixteenth-century Roman Catholic Italy. Is Messiah worshipful or entertainment? See the preface (xiii) for more on this controversy that sounds like something from our modern worship wars. Handel allegedly said:
I should be sorry if I only entertained them, I wish to make them better (67).
Similarly, Jennens, haunted by his brother's suicide, worked on the Messiah libretto in hopes of converting "Atheists, Deists, Jews, and Mohametans [Muslims]" and anyone else who did not believe Christ to be the Messiah...(78).
Modernized orchestrations of Messiah were common. Mozart was the first and certainly the most distinguished re-orchestrator of Messiah. He turned Handel's Baroque orchestra into a Classical one. In Messiah, in addition to the strings, Handel only called for two oboes, to trumpets, and tympani. Mozart added pairs of flutes (and a piccolo in the pifa), clarinets, horns, bassoons, and three trombones.
People are interested in Handel's Messiah because of its timeless musical power. Calvin Stapert and Eerdmans are putting that interest to good use as a means to the end of more widely educating the reading public about the Christian and musical history, theology, and practice involved in one of the world's most beloved compositions.
Sinful human beings are by nature enemies of God. They would rather worship themselves and be gods than worship the one true God. All worship begins with the Lord who speaks and then opens our lips to repeat His Word back to Him. Too many books on worship focus primarily or only on the human response to God. Let us extol the Lord's gifts to us by regularly and joyfully receiving the fruits of Jesus' sacrificial death and victorious resurrection, the Service rendered for us and to us by the Divine Savior, Christ. I pray you enjoy these books as much as I did.
Rev. Paul J Cain is Pastor of Immanuel Lutheran Church, Sheridan, Wyoming, Headmaster of Martin Luther Grammar School, a member of the Board of Directors of The Consortium for Classical and Lutheran Education, Wyoming District Worship Chairman, and Editor of QBR.