The Aesthetics of Worship

Why do we sing in church, in our living room, at a concert, etc.?

“Is there (or should there be) a palpable difference between the aesthetics of worship and other opportunities for singing together? Does the context of a coffee house, campfire, concert hall, stadium, living room, or sanctuary change our expectations and practice of making music?

 

In my last post, I set out a series of questions–including the following–regarding the content of music in worship:

Is there (or should there be) a palpable difference between the aesthetics of worship and other opportunities for singing together? Does the context of a coffee house, campfire, concert hall, stadium, living room, or sanctuary change our expectations and practice of making music?

At the heart of these questions lies the issue of purpose. Why do we sing in church, in our living room, at a concert, etc.? How is this singing led?

For example, if you are a popular music artist on tour in front of 15,000 people in a stadium you will necessarily lead/perform/sing differently than in the intimate setting of a coffeehouse or house concert. The environment of the venue and the purpose of the music serve different functions in different settings. Imagine a country or pop artist jumping up and down around your living room in front of a dozen people—it’s a little incongruent.

I once went to a Christmas concert starring several well-known artists. This was the first year that the concert had moved from a smaller setting to a large arena. However, the artists had not made the mental shift in their own heads as to what that meant for the show. The intimacy of interacting with the audience was lost when you have thousands of people in a large space on multiple levels. Also a bit unusual were the vendors walking up and down the stairs in the nosebleed sections selling beer during a Christmas concert. The arena treated the event as a concert; the artists were in the frame of mind of a hometown Christmas concert/sing-a-long. The venue won and the audience was perplexed.

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