Building for Memory

How Church Buildings Can Express God's Faithfulness

About once a quarter on a Saturday, it would fall on my plate tolead a new members’ class for those who’d expressed interest in joiningthe church. Most of the teaching took place in the church’s Christianeducation building. At the end of the class, however, I would walk thegroup across the churchyard for a quick tour of the sanctuary.

If your congregation always sings from a hymnal or other songbook, you won’t need this information. On the other hand, if your congregation sometimes uses projected songs or prints them in the bulletin, this article is for you. These FAQs will cover everything you’ve ever wanted to know (and maybe more) about copyright issues pertaining to music. Read it! You’ll be glad you did. And you’ll sleep well knowing your congregation is complying with copyright laws!

Q. Is every song protected by copyright?

Church-goers these days have rising expectations for the quality of worship. We want worship to be an authentic encounter with the living God, a quality gathering for the Christian community, and an effective means of reaching those exploring Christian faith. In fact, we have gradually placed more weight on the role of worship in accomplishing the church’s mission.

In the beginning God speaks six times on six days, and then stops. God rests. But each of these days also has a night. And God rests then too! God doesn’t talk all the time. In fact, Genesis doesn’t even start with a word. Genesis starts with the formlessness of the earth and with the Spirit of God brooding over the face of the deep. Then God speaks. You might almost say that at last God speaks. “Let there be light,” says God. According to Genesis, God breaks the cosmic silence with a creative word.

Robert Webber has been an editorial consultant for Reformed Worship for many years and has written for RW several times. To help us start off our twentieth anniversary year, we asked him to reflect on “what we’ve learned along the way.” This article is the first in a series by a variety of writers associated with Reformed Worship since we began twenty years ago.


Two voices, bracketing the Bible’s witness like audible bookends, shore up the theological convictions of this article. On one side of the biblical witness is the voice of the Creator thundering into creation’s inky darkness, “Let there be light. . . .” And on the other side is the voice of the prophet gasping for breath to choke out a benediction in the apocalypse of St. John, “Blessed is everyone who reads aloud the words of the prophecy of this book. . . .”

My 88-year-old mother has lived in a nursing home for almost four years. That’s more than two hundred Sundays! Frequently I ask, “Mom, did you go to church today?” Always she answers, “Oh, there’s no church here.” On several occasions I’ve attended the afternoon worship, and almost always I’d have to agree.