Friday, September 10, 2010

Make Joyful Noise: The Sounds of Church

Psalm 98:4 (King James Version)
Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all the earth:
Make a loud noise, and rejoice, and sing praise.

That Bible verse is one of my favorites, and the psalms are packed with similar injunctions for us to make noise and sing in joy and thanksgiving.  That sentiment is the driving force behind our music at Bethany this fall, and I want to extend that theme here on the blog.

This week kicks off my ongoing fall series titled Make Joyful Noise.  Each week I'll devote one post to a category of sounds and share some of my own thoughts on the topic.  I hope that it will spark thoughts and memories of your own that you'll share in the comments.  To get us started this week, I thought we'd discuss the most obvious place to make joyful noise: the church.

Worship services conjure up thoughts of liturgies and hymns, of course.  Some of my own favorites are "Holy, Holy, Holy," "Earth and All Stars," and "A Mighty Fortress."  Some hymns also bring back specific memories.  "Let Us Break Bread Together" always makes me think of my mom and how much she enjoys hearing me play that hymn.  "Beautiful Savior" connotes my time at St. Olaf.  "On Eagles Wings" reminds me of my great-uncle's funeral many years ago.  In fact, it's only the vaguest of memories and the only image that I can bring to mind of that day.  The power of music to influence memories never ceases to amaze me.  Perhaps you can recall exactly the music of your wedding or perhaps you simply have an old favorite that you love to hear again and again.

But we hear more sounds than that in a church.  I always associate church with the many handshakes and greetings of "Good morning" or "Peace be with you" or (on Easter) "Alleluia!"  The clink of communion glasses and coffee cups, the rustling of bulletins, and the poetic recitations of the confession and the Lord's Prayer - those sounds combine in their own symphony of praise.

Listen this Sunday not just to the hymns but to all the sounds of the church building and the worship service.  Share what you hear or tell the story of your favorite hymn.  What joyful noise do you hear among the sounds of church?


  1. tom listed happy events but at times churches are filled with sounds of mourning and comfort too

  2. This morning the joyful noise came from the children as it was Rally day for Sunday School. I love seeing their excitement! As to favorite hymns, one of my favorite hymns is "When in Our Music God is Glorified", using the Engelberg tune. "Earth and All Stars" and "A Mighty Fortress" stand right beside it as favorites. I find them to be powerful, emotional hymns for me being involved in the music of the church. Music is my worship, my gift to God.