Is our worship any good?

I’ve just read a booklet entitled ‘Evaluating Worship’ by Mark Earey, and I found it fascinating – he talks about the different models of worship that exist, for example, do you think:

  • Worship is for the individual to draw closer to God, or
  • Worship is to enable us to be more open to the readings and preaching, or
  • Worship is our duty – it doesn’t matter whether we like it or not, or
  • Worship is heaven on earth – as the angels are singing ‘Holy, holy, holy’ in heaven, so we reflect that praise on earth…

The models of worship are different to ‘styles of worship’ – so any of these models could be formal or informal, they could use hymn books or the words on a screen. In fact, often when we argue about the style of worship (eg. we mustn’t have bongo drums in the service) we are really trying to defend our model of worship (eg. I don’t care whether people like bongo drums – people should see worship as a duty).

I don’t particularly prefer any style – I like both formal and informal worship – but a more interesting question for me has been ‘What is my model of worship’ – none of the above really resonate for me.

Having reflected on it, for me it is about the family of God coming together around the table and being equipped to serve the community. I value us showing up, week by week, getting to know each other well and becoming a spiritual family. I also value us being sent out into the world to serve others and to let God’s love be known.

There are many sobering scriptures where people think their worship is great but God has other ideas – the classic example is from Amos 5:

I hate, I despise your festivals, and I take no delight in your solemn assemblies…Take away from me the noise of your songs; I will not listen to the melody of your harps. But let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream. (Amos 5.21–24, NRSV)

The booklet ends with a quote from the theologian the Reverend Michael Vasey:

The evaluation of worship in any Christian tradition has to attend not only to the emotional and aesthetic experience but to its outworking in agape, justice and mission.

How can you tell if worship is any good? Not by asking ‘How many of us liked it?’ (the ‘emotional and aesthetic experience’). What Vasey reminds us is that the truest evaluation of worship will always be based on what are essentially long-term criteria, rather than the short-term criteria we often apply.

News from St George’s Choir

On 18th May Ian Church, Vice-Chairman of the Royal School of Church Music, paid us the compliment of coming to our choir practice.  He told us that we have a great responsibility; we are ‘ministers of music’, and our singing should reveal ‘a glimpse of God.’   The motto of the School is: ‘I will sing with the spirit and with the understanding also’.

Ian took the second half of the practice, showing us how to ‘sing with the spirit’, and bring glory to God with ‘energy’. He thinks it’s essential to start with a ‘warm up’. Our voices are our own personal instruments, and need exercising as much as athletes, dancers and footballers exercise their bodies.  The warm up creates an opportunity to say hello to each other.

So we stood up and did a lot of fun stretching exercises – standing on one leg and shaking the other, arms out and shaking the shoulders, singing The Grand Old Duke of York – clapping on the ‘ups’ and stamping on the ‘downs’, tongue twisters…you get the picture.  Then Ian handed us giant playing cards, and as he played the piano and sang a number, we held aloft the appropriate card.  Hilarious for all, especially the children, and quite a test of co-ordination for all of us.

To make sure we were completely uninhibited, Ian asked us to sing a line or two of ‘Somewhere over the rainbow’, and really ‘let rip’.  Quite a cacophony!  And then Ian led us in the Peruvian Gloria, with Margaret on drum.  The energy levels by then were extremely high!

Ian gave us all sort of advice on singing technique, such as first singing new hymns to ‘la’ while looking at the notes.  He said that every choir member must learn to read music.  Ian is Music Director of St John’s, West Byfleet, with a children’s and an adult choir.  He invited us to attend his choir practice at any time.

Since joining the choir just before Christmas,  William (Bill) Thomas has fulfilled many of the things Ian taught us.  On Trinity Sunday, Bill was presented with his certificate for completing the first ‘Singer’s workbook’ in the ‘Voice for Life’ scheme, making him a full member of St George’s Choir.  He also received ‘The Choristers’s Companion’ in recognition of his enormous enthusiasm, humour and commitment to the choir.

Ian continues to encourage us with suggestions by email, and it’s very nice to be called ‘a lovely group’!

Frances Whewell

Tea and cakes with ‘Emily’

It’s not every day that a church organ recital is held on a sunny afternoon with the audience gathered round flower bedecked tables, tea and delicious cakes being served in the interval.  Such was the scene at St Mark’s on 2nd June.

This was Lesley Crawley’s idea – to have a fund-raising concert for the Edwardian organ, ‘Emily’, and Pat Love and her Tea Cakes Group were the kind hosts.  Since highlighting this event in the June magazine, two of my organist friends, John Mansfield and Geoff Willis, offered to take part.  I couldn’t have done it without them.  Each played five or six pieces.  My favourite of John’s were Gabriel Fauré’s ‘Sicilienne’, Johnny Dankworth’s ‘Light of the World’ – originally a worship song, and also ‘Gospel Chorus’ which used some of Emily’s louder stops.

We didn’t want to disguise Emily’s imperfections, because we needed to demonstrate that she needs attention!  So we made a feature of the low Eb on the pedals which emits a loud whooshing noise.  Geoff said this was the vacuum cleaner effect!  He had thought of playing a piece by Sir George Dyson, but decided against it!  Instead he played some beautiful pieces including ‘Shenandoah’, a traditional American 19th century folk song.  Geoff also played ‘The Festive Trumpet Tune’ which David German wrote for his own wedding. Emily doesn’t have a trumpet stop, but the oboe stop coupled with a flute stop makes a rich bright sound.

The  gentle flute stops by themselves seemed right for ‘Greensleeves’ and ‘O for the wings of a dove’ which I played.   In between the organ music Bob Shatwell and Margaret Emberson provided the perfect interlude with fiddle and piano music, ending with two reels – “Grumbling old men and growling old women’, (I think that’s the right title!), and, even more rousing, ‘Whisky before Breakfast’!  This dances along at 110 beats per minute – no problem at all for the folk duo.

Among Emily’s problems are very clackety keys – audible to the audience.  And some of the stops make the keys very stiff to play, so she cannot perform to her full glory.  The concert raised the splendid sum of £178 towards her restoration.  Thank you to all who supported us.  One of my organist friends in the audience said afterwards:

“I was glad to come along and hear such a lovely little instrument….it is perfect for that space.  I was also interested to look at the pictures on the wall – all in all, a hidden gem of a building.”

Frances Whewell      

An evening with Rudyard Kipling

Jonathan Jones, the Farnham Town Crier, will be performing on Saturday 9th July at 7:30pm at St Mark’s Church, Upper Hale, GU9 0LT, to raise money for the restoration of ‘Emily’ the pipe organ. Entry is free but donations are very welcome!

Jonathan explains, “I will present, in the first person, Rudyard Kipling’s “Something of Myself”. It is the story of Rudyard Kipling’s life, based on his autobiography and interspersed with dramatic readings of his poetry, including ‘If’, ‘Tommy’, ‘The Glory of the Garden’, ‘Recessional’, ‘My Boy Jack’ and ‘Gunga Din’. It covers his traumatic childhood, his early years in India and the tragic loss of his son John in the Great War.”

The Reverend Lesley Crawley said, “This will be a fantastic evening, we are so very lucky to have Jonathan performing for us once again. His “A Christmas Carol” performance was unforgettable. Do come along for a wonderful community evening and please help us to restore ‘Emily’!”

So far over £5300 has been raised to restore and rebuild the Edwardian Pipe Organ. The target is £23,000.

Introducing our Curate Hannah

My name is Hannah Moore and in a few weeks time I will be moving into your Parish with my family to work and worship with you.

I was born in Bedfordshire, but at the age of five, I moved to South Africa with my parents and sister for a short work contract of two years. We ended up staying for 23 years. I met my husband, Michael, whilst at school and we have been married for 20 years. We have two children, Rachael and Reuben.  Michael is a teacher and works at a secondary school in Fleet.

I qualified as a teacher and taught at a primary school before I had Rachael. I have also worked in the private sector on the planning and development of a Titanium mine. When we returned to England, I set up my own business in partnership with my sister and my mum running After School Craft clubs, which I did until I started my training for ministry.

Over the last three years, I have been studying at St Mellitus Theological College in London, as well as working for the Church on the Heath where I was training in ministry,  and at  All Saints Church in Fleet as a Children’s and Families worker.

When I am not working I love to watch sport. I am mad about cricket so enjoy watching England and I try to keep up with where Liverpool FC is in the Premier League table – not close enough to the top for my liking! I can also be seen out and about walking our two dogs (and the cats that often come as well.) I also love to relax with a good book or challenge myself with a jigsaw puzzle. Now that I have finished a very intense period of my academic studies I am looking forward to being a happy strummer on my guitar again.

Please continue to pray for my family as we prepare to move. Moving can be stressful, so I am keeping the words of my favourite Psalm in mind during this time as we sort out cupboards and say our goodbyes in Fleet., “I lift up my eyes to the hills from where will my help come? My help comes from the Lord” (Ps121).

Michael, Rachael, Reuben and I are really excited to be moving into your parish and getting to know you all.

Hannah Moore

**Hannah is being ordained at Charterhouse on 3rd July at 3pm – all welcome. All welcome to come back to St George’s straight afterwards for bring and share meal – at about 5:30pm.