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July 15, 2020

All Shall Be Well: A Reflection

All Shall Be Well: A Reflection

A 1992 seminar in the personalist philosophy of John Macmurray led me to wonder how liturgical praying means encounter between persons. How is it personal? Or, what does liturgy as the “action of Christ and the Church” look like? And what implications regarding the purpose of liturgical music surface? It is a larger question left for us to explore: What are the characteristics of a personal engagement with God? A question which I examine in my current writing.

I have come to believe that the purpose of liturgical music is to help situate worshipers with Christ, in the Spirit and toward the Father. That is, serves this dimension of the liturgy as it functions as the field of encounter between the Body of Christ in the world and our Triune God. It assists all other ministries in cultivating the ‘I/Thou’ relationship. ‘We’ are the ‘I’ of the Body of Christ when praying liturgically, for it is the Body who sings.

I selected these eight songs from a number of others because, for the most part, they situate the worshiping Church before God in the ‘I/Thou’ relationship. “Oh, Come Within, Beloved,” though, relates the congregation to soon-to-be catechumens at the Rite of Acceptance [with verses for baptism and matrimony], welcoming them into the community of believers. All Shall Be Well appears to sit outside my theory. However, it may raise questions: From what do I need comfort? How much assurance is enough? These would be valuable in locating us in the mystery of our own lives at liturgy, from which place we meet God.

Six of these eight pieces move at an excruciatingly slow tempo. Purposefully so. Coming to a way of presiding “at a pace we can hear ourselves mean what we say” occurred for me at the time I also desired to delve into such a slow pulse. Breathe and listen. Listen and breathe. It’s all for the sake entering into communion with God, ourselves and others.

Choir directors, I beg of you… try the unhurried nature of these six. Find the groove wherein you find Truth. Avoid the lugubrious, the lethargic.

Track Listing:
You Are Near, O God (2017) | In Your Presence, O God (1992) | Oh, Come Within, Beloved of God (1998) | One Day within Your Temple (1995) | My Heart Yearns and Pines (2017) | All Shall Be Well (1994) | To Do Your Will (1967, 2018) | With Open Hands (1999)

View the collection and listen to sound samples here.