There is a quote attributed to John Calvin which goes something like this:
“Music is a funnel into the soul through which theology can be poured.”
Here at St. Mark’s we seek to offer a variety of musical styles, while leaning heavily upon the English choral tradition which has provided such an enormous resource of inspired religious song. The music which we offer is but one thread in the tapestry we seek to weave in worship. Our various choirs, instrumentalists, and our wonderful organ realize their greatest potential when they are used to bring people into the life-changing presence of God, the Creator of all things.
God has provided the Church with all manner of wonderful tools with which we can open the hearts and minds of individuals to his immeasureable love, mercy, and forgiveness. Art, architecture, the spoken word, liturgy, and music can usher people into God’s presence, often when they may least expect it, and at times with an intensity for which they were unprepared.
The exhortation, “Sing to the Lord” appears throughout Scripture. This is a clear indication that musical expression is part of the response we are expected to make to God’s self-revelation. Speech, silence, and action alone are not always sufficient. Liturgical conversation with God can transcend the limitations of human speech, and so we call upon our music, both vocal and instrumental, for help. As Pope Benedict XVI has said, “Liturgical music is a result of the claim and the dynamics of the Word’s incarnation. . . . Faith becoming music is a part of the process of the Word becoming flesh”
In the context of the worshipping life of the Church, music has the potential to communicate the exciting truths of the Christian faith to our lives in a way that reaches deeply into the hearts of who we are. Music reaches our wills through our emotions, and can open us up to incredible, life-changing experiences. As Richard Webster has said, “Hymns lift us out of ourselves and into a place where the presence of God is truly felt, a transcendence that leads to transformation.”
This transcendence is best served when we give serious thought to the quality of music we utilize. In offering us his Son, God gave us the very best he had. Should we not, in all things, offer him the very best we have in return?
Again, the words of Pope Benedict XVI speak to this issue: “Liturgy is the work of God as well as the people, acted in and through the communion of saints, an act of being as well as participating which takes place through history, mystery and the entire cosmos. If it is indeed the work of God then it stands in opposition to the idea of it being the creation of any one particular group. Liturgy is not merely doing, it is being, and an event of both heaven and earth. Artistic church music resonates the glory of God, and therefore cannot be considered utilitarian. ‘Light’ music does not wish to say anything, but seeks only to break up the burden of silence.”
We gladly welcome anyone of any age who wishes to be a part of the music program here at St. Mark’s. Whether from the pew or the choir loft, may we always celebrate God’s gift of music!
“Glorify the Lord and exalt him as much as you are able, for he surpasses even that. When you exalt him, summon all your strength, and do not grow weary, for you cannot praise him enough.” Ecclesiasticus 43:30