Miscellaneous Mutterings, chiefly concerning Music

Craig Schwarze

I went along to TWIST on the weekend, and had a great time too. I have to start by giving a shout out to our church building, where the conference was hosted. It was great to see this sensational facility being used to serve the wider church community. We’ve already had quite a few conferences there in the building’s short life - I hope we have plenty more.

It was a really good day, and good to take some time out to think about how we use music in our churches. Ray Galea preached from the Psalms, and was typically excellent. The Psalms formed a bit of a theme for the day, with Jodie doing some liturgical readings from them as well. Perhaps TWIST should think about preaching through the entire Psalter.

We heard a few tracks from the latest EMU album, and I was duly impressed. It was produced in Nashville, and it sounds great. I really hope people will buy this album, as we need to support and encourage our local songwriters. I recently listened back over the last few EMU albums and reflected that the recent material is much, much better than the older stuff - yet many congregations seem stuck on songs from 10 years ago. Must be frustrating for the songwriters.

It was good to see Bren McLean there from St Paul’s Castle Hill. Bren set up his own music conference this year, Shine, which attracted a couple of hundred people. I feel there is certainly room for two music conferences in the diocese - especially if they are in different locations, and have different angles. I hope they both flourish.

Seeing my old friend Philip Percival reminded me of another of Bren’s passions - the promotion of a professional music ministry. Several churches now have paid music directors, but it is very much the exception rather than the rule. If we don’t start to develop this role more seriously, we will continue to see talented music minsters like Philip head overseas. Some people think a paid music director is an outrageous luxury, but I imagine people thought the same about paid children’s workers back in the day.

I’ll finish this disjointed post with a favourite quote from Martin Luther -

I truly desire that all Christians would love and regard as worthy the lovely gift of music, which is a precious, worthy, and costly treasure given to mankind by God. The riches of music are so excellent and so precious that words fail me whenever I attempt to discuss and describe them…next to the Word of God, the noble art of music is the greatest treasure in the world. It controls our thoughts, minds, hearts, and spirits…