C.S. Lewis on what really matters in worship [quote]

Yet another!  This one on humility in church music:

There are two musical situations on which I think we can be confident that a blessing rests. One is where a priest or an organist, himself a man of trained and delicate taste, humbly and charitably sacrifices his own (aesthetically right) desires and gives the people humbler and coarser fare than he would wish, in a belief (even, as it may be, the erroneous belief) that he can thus bring them to God. The other is where the stupid and unmusical layman humbly and patiently, and above all silently, listens to music which he cannot, or cannot fully, appreciate, in the belief that it somehow glorifies God, and that if it does not edify him this must be his own defect. Neither such a High Brow nor such a Low Brow can be far out of the way. To both, Church Music will have been a means of grace; not the music they have liked, but the music they have disliked. They have both offered, sacrificed, their taste in the fullest sense.

This on why worship is the most awesomest thing ever…

An excellently performed piece of music, as natural operation which reveals in a very high degree the peculiar powers given to man, will thus always glorify God whatever the intention of the performers may be. But that is a kind of glorifying which we share with the ‘dragons and great deeps’, with the ‘frost and snows’. What is looked for in us, as men, is another kind of glorifying, which depends on intention. How easy or how hard it may be for a whole choir to preserve that intention through all the discussions and decisions, all the corrections and the disappointments, all the temptations to pride, rivalry and ambition, which precede the performance of a great work, I (naturally) do not know. But it is on the intention that all depends. When it succeeds, I think the performers are the most enviable of men; privileged while mortals to honor God like angels and, for a few golden moments, to see spirit and flesh, delight and labour, skill and worship, the natural and the supernatural, all fused into that unity they would have had before the Fall.

And this; CS Lewis on bad singers in church…

We shall also be aware that the power of shouting stands very low in the hierarchy of natural gifts, and that it would be better to learn to sing if we could.  If anyone tryies to teach us we will try to learn.  If we cannot learn, and this is desired, we will shut up.

– excerpts from C.S. Lewis, “On Church Music”

Author: adamkurihara

Minister of Worship Arts at NSCBC in Beverly, MA

2 thoughts on “C.S. Lewis on what really matters in worship [quote]”

  1. Thank you for this! As a leader of worship, I especially loved the end of the first quote.
    Even if I disagree on his opinion of poor singers in church, I appreciate Lewis’ thought out statements.

    I hope all is well!

  2. Glad you liked it. I’d disagree too about the singers, not about the learning though…we should all learn to sing better…myself included! But especially in congregational singing, everyone should sing. We’d much rather hear a tone-deaf person singing at the top of their lungs than see folded arms and closed lips.

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