Start the music


Concerning the Sunday Morning Services in most places in the Lutheran Church in Scandinavia the clock is ticking. It is almost midnight. I am aware that statistics can be used in different directions, but the fact is that fewer and fewer are attending the Sunday Morning services in our part of the World. Some congregations are experimenting with different kinds of services - later on sundays or at times during the week; but I think alle agree that, when less than 2% of the population is attending the Sunday Morning Services, something has to be done - and that is a good starting point!

The question though that need to be answered is: "Why do people in fewer and fewer numbers attend the Sunday Morning Services?" Especially concerning the fact that about 3 out of 4 are members in the local congregation in all of Scandinavia! Since Martin Modeus' enigmatic book "Mänsklig Gudstjänst" (Human Sunday Morning Service) from the beginning of this century, the scandinavian lutheran churches have worked on getting out of the dire straits. It began in Sweden, Modeus' homeland, then the reform of the Sunday Morning Services came to Norway and led to many many local orders of their particular Sunday Morning Service, all of which were elaborated within the local congregation - the danish Lutheran Church came last (again) - maybe because our statistical numbers were somewhat better than in our neighbors; and in the danish church the bishops were initiators of working groups on the different elements (ordo) in our Sunday Morning Services. Thus demonstrating a diamentral opposite working process than the norwegians. I am not impressed with either method - in fact I do not believe that it thoroughly answers the fundamental question stated above. On the other hand I would claim, that changing the order of different liturgical elements will have absolutely no effect on the numbers of participants in our Sunday Morning Services - this is supported by the fact, that the norwegian Lutheran Church still is in dire straits, and even worse off than when I was ministering there!

In my opinion there is an answer to the question, which has to do with about 46% of any Sunday Morning Service - also almost half of the service! My claim is that: "Fewer and fewer people attend the Sunday Morning Services because the musical style is monotone!" The organ is a fantastic instrument - and for that matter quite expensive - but it has a certain sound or feel to it, which is quite monotone; perfect for some songs and psalms and certain occasions. But when only under 5% of the population would actually go and buy organ-music, the "bells" should have been ringing some decades ago, telling the leaders of the church, that something has to be done in the case of different musical styles. It seems to me that many have been deaf in that respect! Would I burn or sell the organs of the church - off course not! Would I still use them - certainly! But the organ needs to be supplemented with other musical instruments, on some occasions playing alongside the organ - on other occasions even without the organ. We still need an organist, but the organist would have to use his/her education in deciding which instruments are appropriate to the different songs, psalms and musical features. I do not advocate any distinctive instrument nor any musical style - but I am certain that the musical input and output of any Sunday Morning Service will have an enormous effect - and certainly the most - on the experience any participant will have afterwards!

And my final claim is, that the numbers attending the Sunday Morning Services thus will increase.

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