Author: Peter Ruppert
Historically, songs and music have always been an important part of the idea of worship. Perhaps the reason for this is the ease which songs and music provide in expressing worship. The ability to use songs for worship was recognized early in the history of the Christian faith. It was the apostle Paul who encouraged the Ephesians as well as the Colossians to use hymns, psalms and spiritual songs as a way to express the gratitude within their hearts.
Throughout the centuries, music has continued to be used in worship services for that very purpose. The various moods of the congregation can be expressed through different songs including prayer, praise, adoration and reverence. Perhaps even more importantly, songs provide a way for worshippers to confess to God as well as respond to His glory.
Jewish synagogues historically practiced the use of psalms and hymns in their worship services; a practice which was carried over into the early Christian churches. During the Middle Ages, the practice of singing hymns by the congregation experienced somewhat of a decline in western Europe. One of the reasons for this was the fact that hymns had become more complex while at the same time the laity had begun to use Latin less frequently. As a result, hymn singing almost fell completely out of use during this time in the church. It was not until much later that the idea of congregational music was once again restored and became a meaningful way for the congregation to express worship.
Since that time, worship music has continued to provide a fundamental role within worship services. Liturgical songs not only provide an opportunity for the congregation to join together as they worship, but they also provide enhanced emotions and meanings. In many cases, hymns provide a way in which worshippers are better able to understand the Word of God. Specifically, liturgical songs enhance the most important elements of worship; reading of the Word, the Sacrament of Holy Communion and the sermon. Singing also provides preparation for worshippers to receive the abundant grace of God.
Today, hymns continue to be a much enjoyed form of worship. While they remain a strong element of traditional worship services, they also provide an avenue of worship for God's people even when they are not in a worship service. As a result, spiritually based music has gained in popularity in the last few years, with many groups finding success as they offer avenues for God's people to express worship and reverence while going about everyday tasks.
Numerous groups have formed over the years and offered a variety of different worship based music. Recently, word was announced that three priests from Ireland have signed a recording contract with Sony BMG. The Priests' first album is expected to debut in November. The album is anticipated to include a number of liturgical pieces as well as classic hymns such as Ave Maria and even a few classical opera pieces as well.
Peter Ruppert writes regular columns for music websites. For more information on The Priests please click here.