Why join in?
Yesterday I attended Choral Evensong at York Minster.
Today it was back to the usual.
And I enjoyed both.
In York, the professionalism of the cathedral choir and organist combined with the acoustics of the minster itself was powerful. Though the lack of anything to join in with was missed. We sat, stood or kneeled as appropriate but until a hymn at the end you were little more than a spectator at a holy concert. The Anthem was amazing, especially where the loud organ chord stops and there is a single treble voice singing. Real hair on the back of the neck standing up stuff, though the counterpoint prevented me from knowing what they were actually singing. Even so, and despite it being well outside my comfort zone, I left feeling I’d been in the presence of God.
Back to the usual. Back to Huddersfield. Back to Holy Trinity Church. I was pleased from the beginning of the service to have something to join in with.The music was not up to the exacting standards of York, but it didn’t need to be, I’d spoil it any way. Was God’s presence felt here? Yes but in a different way.
Because it’s prayer.
So why do we do what we do? The answer is simple: Because it’s prayer.
We join in responses to bidding because it’s prayer. It gives the ordinary worshipper in the pew a chance to actively participate in the official prayers which are being offered on their behalf.
We sing hymns and psalms because it’s prayer.
We listen to a choir singing the anthem because it’s prayer.
Today we offered the peace to each other because it’s prayer. We are praying for people by offering them God’s peace.
Playing music helps people to worship. Helping others to prayer is prayer too. On those services where I play Cajón and Bodhrán I pray by hitting things.
And after service coffee: Giving something way free, so there is no need for a visitor to pay anything, shows the grace of God in giving our salvation free. This too can be seen as prayer.
And the guy in the checked shirt who got into the foreground of the picture I took of York Minster, he was at the Evensong as well.