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Weekly e-Gram for members and friends of Dublin Community Church

June 14, 2013


We have an ongoing debate in churches these days…whether to applaud the church music or not.

It has accelerated over the years as we recognize people for their contributions to society, whether in a sports team, the military, cancer funding or worship. There is nothing wrong with giving credit where credit is due.

Applauding the sports star for an outstanding performance is a time honored way to acknowledge achievement over and above. Saluting a military hero who has been selfless in her service to our country is necessary for those of us who remain at home. Giving our thanks to those who raise needed funds for medical research means that we understand that fund raising is an art with an outcome that is truly life-saving.

Which brings us to the question of applause in church. As our society has embraced the notion of more and more recognition for those who give of their time and skill to all areas of life, we now routinely applaud musicians in worship.

The ultimate question is, whether church music is there for entertainment or worship. We continually debate whether or not to applaud and recently we (actually, I) have asked folks not to applaud for some musicians, as the worship is designed with music to move the service along as we seek the presence of God in our midst.

The musical numbers are not there to draw attention to the performers; they are a part of the worship to draw attention to God. Music leads to prayers and prayers lead to Scripture and Scripture leads to preaching. Applause interrupts the flow of the service; it constricts the spirit within the worship.

Recently I came across the following quote from Jane Austin and frankly, it prompted this e-gram.

In a church service
it is music that best allows the spirit
to aspire to the beyond.

Applause draws attention to the performer.
Church music draws attention to our God.

I expect, at times, we will still applaud, especially when our little children do indeed entertain God and us with their music. We may even applaud a particularly rousing number, which makes us appreciate the joy of being in God’s presence.

But, it is the quiet, complex music, of a choir, bell choir or soloist, which brings us closer to the spirit that should inspire us to such heights that we respond with silence.

Peace, Rev. Bob Tussing

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