Recorded music in the liturgy

I remember a long time ago hearing of a Church of Scotland minister who had a service to mark the death of Elvis, complete with suitable music. At the time, I thought that was tacky.

However, when I was in my ordination training, I did use recorded music in our worship quite a lot. One of few things that I missed when that time was over was saying the daily office morning and evening with my peers. We would each have responsibility for leading it for a week at a time. (No staff came, which was partly what made it such a success). I remember introducing music several times. Two which stand out were using the U2 track, “I still haven’t found what I’m looking for” to accompany the Magi as they made their way to Bethlehem on the Feast of the Epiphany and using a Proclaimers track very, very loudly at the end of a quiet retreat.

I seem to remember there being trouble about the U2 track. It was a bit much for someone who thought that by the time I was in theological training, I ought to have found what I was looking for. (And the answer was supposed to be Jesus, of course).

Other people caught on with this game and we had a splendid week of Shostakovich string quartets at one stage. Life was tough in that training scheme, and such music described very particularly what it all felt like.

I think this kind of thing only really works when you have a group of people who already have a common sense of the liturgy, and who have come to understand its own internal rhythm over quite a long time.

Things started to go downhill when someone else treated us to a “Christian” rock band who were just terrible.


  1. Anonymous says

    Re: Recorded music in the liturgy
    Dennis Potter has an awful lot to answer for.

  2. Kelvin says

    Re: Recorded music in the liturgy
    After the death of George Harrison I was at a Sunday Eucharist where the Rector played a tape of My Sweet Lord and based his sermon on it. Don’t think it was really appreciated but I didn’t hear any complaints either.

  3. Kelvin says

    Re: Recorded music in the liturgy
    The only time I can remember this really working was when the Piscy College was at Coates Hall and after the Friday evening Eucharist the student who had been leading that week’s services, Kevin Bean, turned on a cassette of Boney-M singing Rivers of Babylon. I still recall the surprised grins on people’s faces and Gian Tellini practically skipping out of the chapel

    Ian Burdon
    (Coates Hall 1977-79)

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