worship & music at messiah

A summary of some of the hallmarks and characteristics of our worship life, by Jeff Kidder, Music Director

It’s Anglican/Episcopal and has historical depth and continuity. Worship at Messiah is based on deep and rich traditions dating back to ancient Jewish worship as well as early Christian traditions. It also has been renewed and reformed throughout church history, most notably during the Anglican Reformation in the 1500’s. 

Our basic worship rites (liturgies, services of worship) are drawn from the Book of Common Prayer, first written by Thomas Cranmer in 1549, and historically have emphasized the Incarnation of God in Jesus Christ and Sacramental theology (upholding the Eucharist/Holy Communion & the Baptismal Covenant as central to our worship theology and practice). Though reformed, Anglican tradition continued to value and utilize forms of liturgy and music from the Roman Catholic tradition, so that today, one finds ancient chant alongside hymns in worship. We at Messiah try to carry on this tradition by continuing to use both ancient and modern music (and much of what lies between) in our worship.

It has a seasonal rhythm and richness. As a liturgical, lectionary-based church, our worship is shaped by the appointed scripture readings for each Sunday and the major seasons and feast days of the church year. In addition, we also include occasional thematic influences on some Sundays and times of the year such as Youth and Children, Mission/Outreach, Stewardship, and others. (e.g., 2020’s “Way of Love”)

It seeks to have balance and fullness. A quote from Richard Foster’s Celebration of Discipline expresses this well. In it he describes his vision for the Church and Christian community, which also relates well to worship. “We’re trying to articulate a balanced vision …that recognizes the great traditions of the church…the Contemplative tradition, or the prayer-filled life… the Charismatic tradition, or the Spirit-filled life; the Social Justice tradition or the Compassionate life; the Evangelical tradition, or the Word-centered life; the Incarnational tradition, or the Sacramental life…how all of them flow together…”

It seeks to be Christ-Centered. Within the context of the broad statement above,

Messiah does have an intentionally Christ-Centered, though still Trinitarian, worship. As an example, Messiah’s Music Ministry Mission Statement says that it is

Called by God and led by the Spirit to facilitate Christ-centered worship through sacramental music that renews and strengthens God’s people to go forth into the world. This Christ-centered focus reflects the name of our church and the way God seems to have shaped and developed us as a community.

It seeks to be renewed. Messiah has invited and experienced, especially over the last couple of decades, renewal by the Holy Spirit in its life and worship. And our desire is that this renewal be ongoing. This renewal has taken many forms over the years- teaching by our priests and guest preachers, in special services, conferences and seasons (healing, Alpha, and other spiritual renewal weekends), and in the incorporation of healing prayer teams each Sunday (including an anointing for healing liturgy that we incorporate periodically). In particular, the ministry of Messiah’s healing team and the dynamics and beliefs that underlie it- that God will truly be present in a powerful way in our worship and respond to our prayers- has had a profound influence on the character of Messiah’s worship.

It seeks to have musical depth and variety. Along with historical hymnody and liturgical music from the Episcopal Hymnal 1982 (and other sources), we incorporate ancient and modern musical forms and styles from many diverse sources. These include contemporary liturgical (as found in hymnals such as GatherWonder, Love and Praise;With One Voice, LEVAS II hymnal supplements), western popular (Worship Together, Kingsway [UK], Vineyard/Mercy, Integrity’s Hosanna!, Maranatha Music, etc.), ethnic/world music (South Africa, South America, Asia, etc.) and contemplative (Taize, Iona). We also encourage and use the gifts of hymns and songs written by Messiah’s music staff and lay people in our church community.

It’s the joyful “work of the people” (Greek, leitorgia). Messiah has a tradition of highly participatory worship and invites those who attend to join fully in it. Since I joined Messiah in the late 80’s, it has often been tangible that people truly gather to worship. I find people to be ready and even eager to join in the worship on Sundays at Messiah.