Postscript to the postscript

Have I fallen prey to my own pet peeve, defeating my own argument? Is four-part harmony singing "culturally" Mennonite, like paska and schmaunfat?

I argue vociferously, no.

It may be true that choral-quality congregational singing is a feature of mainly of North American churches populated mainly by socio/ethno/cultural or DGR/S Mennonites, but this is a tradition which, regardless of the original intent in its adoption, has theological value.

In this age, we are re-learning to appreciate visual imagery in worship, but through most of Anabaptist history, the values of simplicity and humility stripped ostentatious beauty from our religious practice...except in our singing. And even that is a recent development, the four-part tradition only arising in the 19th century (I think).

The tremendous importance I ascribe to singing fully harmonized hymns is not based in conservatism or tradition but in its living expression of our value of community. Through part-singing, simultaneously, but differently, we work together to present a beautiful offering to God.

Furthermore, congregational worship is not a spectator sport -- it should require participation. We run a greater risk of leaving a religious gathering utterly unchanged if we are merely entertained, never called upon to partake in rhythms or actions directed at God (and, in some ways, ourselves and each other) in concert with the body. Hymn-singing affords the opportunity for all ages to participate in our liturgy.

So, although a love of hymn singing (particularly a weakness for German hymns like Gott ist die Liebe) may be a characteristic of the farmer-sausage-eating set, it is not a cultural hang-up we need to set aside in order to better be the diverse, welcoming, learning-minded church God wants us to be.

Who wants to join me In the Rifted Rock?


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