I was chatting with my Mum yesterday on the phone, discussing worship (specifically of the singing variety). We were talking about song speed. Apparently, when she was young(er!), any group that wanted to show their particularly ‘holy’ approach to worship played songs quickly. Now, of course, the tendency is to assume that in order to show we’re holy, we need to play songs veeeerrrrryyyyy slooooowwwlyyyyyy.
I find it hard to sing certain songs quickly. I remember some years ago, leading our youth service through a rendition of ‘When the Music Fades’ at a speed that would rival an excited auctioneer on performance enhancing drugs. It was not my finest hour at the helm of the band, (though arguably a useful lesson in humility!). I’ve since had countless experiences in church where I find that I’m trying so hard to keep up with the pace the musicians have set that I have very little idea of what I’m singing about. In my conversation with Mum yesterday, I talked about words that get from the lungs to the lips without passing through the brain. But that’s not solely because of the song speed. It might be because I’m so familiar with the words I don’t really need to think about them. Or I might just have something else monopolising my brain (my brain is easily monopolised – I’ll allow you to draw your own conclusions from that…). For me, the words and style of a song should help to determine the speed, because of course different songs have different focuses/aspects of worship.
This ‘lungs to lips’ problem can also apply to liturgy (which I know is why some people avoid liturgy – they feel it loses its meaning because of familiarity) There are ways of combatting this, however. When I say the creed, I picture my way through it, so if you ever wonder why I’m smiling at the ‘he rose again’ bit, you now know why (my frown at ‘he descended to the dead’ coincides with a difficulty in picturing this particular bit!)
However, the fact remains that I have a long way to go before I truly treat all worship as true worship. Confused by a new tune, annoyed by odd grammar, lost in archaic terms, exhausted by the speed, or simply drifting mentally, I all too often lose my grip on worshipping.
How about you?
What makes you struggle in focus?
Any tips to keep your mind where it should be?