It was hard to pick Marty Haugen out until he stepped up to the mike. Dressed simply and holding a guitar, he waited quietly for everyone in the chapel to settle down. Then, after first teaching us some of the responses we would be singing, he began the service of Evening Prayer. Haugen sang, “Jesus Christ, you are the light of the world” and, with a gesture, invited us to respond: “The light no darkness can overcome.” So began one of the services at the Calvin Symposium of Worship and the Arts this past January.
At 10:55 we still needed a tambourine player, someone for the castanets, and a third for the wood block. I also noticed that the tune listed in the bulletin for “All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name” was not the one the organist had been cued to play. At 11:01 I slipped into my seat in time to hear the last announcement and sucked in air as the liturgist shifted our focus to worship. This was not an atypical Sunday morning at Grace Church.
Celebrating Bach's Legacy to the Church: After 250 years, he still preaches powerfully through his music
Fifty years ago, on the 200th anniversary of Bach’s death, composer Paul Hindemith gave a speech titled “Heritage and Obligation.” Like Hindemith, many composers since the time of Mozart have felt some kind of obligation to Bach’s heritage—composers as diverse as Mendelssohn, Chopin, Brahms, Stravinsky, and the jazz pianist John Lewis.
I should have known better. It was, granted, quite a strange request. Almost bizarre. But I thought I could work with it. I thought that perhaps it could be made into something meaningful; something, in fact, faithful to God’s Word. Besides, it was a garden wedding—an informal setting compared to a sanctuary. Perhaps in that context it just might communicate.