By the throat

To get to Tayport from Blogstead, you hurdle the Sidlaw Hills, cross the Tay Bridge and turn left.  It’s rather a place apart and that’s its charm – you wouldn’t go there unless you were going there so it has that slightly ‘secret’ feel.  We have a small and faithful congregation there – they are remarkable for many things but most of all because they demolished their church hall and built a nice, new, small, well-heated, welcoming, brightly lit and paid-for hall.  In other words, they had faith in their future.  I am for ever suggesting to people they should go and look at it.

This evening we went to hear Bach’s St John Passion in the Concert Hall in Perth.  Unfortunately I can’t give credit where credit is due because they ran out of programmes.  I could tell you who most of the audience were because they seemed to be mainly members of the SEC.  It was a good performance – great evangelist in particular.  But I found my mind going back to the quite outstanding performance last year by Mark Padmore.  When he reached ‘Peter went out and wept bitterly,’ I gripped the arms of my seat because he produced a simply terrifying sound which seemed to contain all the anguish of lost humanity.

And I thought a bit about our worship – and what it takes to create worship which does take you by the throat – which rises above the pedestrian.  Obviously you can’t expect it to do that every Sunday morning.  But just now and again, perhaps?  Seems to me its a combination of passion with an aspiration to rise, literally, above the mundane.  And, as I listened to the music tonight, it seemed to me to be also about creating pools of space and silence, about varying pace, about how what is soft speaks louder than what is merely noisy.  I noticed tonight that I sometimes felt the emotion of the moment in the space that followed it – not at the moment itself.  Strange that.  Let’s not go there.


  1. Yes, the Marc Padmore St John was so good. It was a really absolutely outstanding evening. I did not go this year, firstly necause I was booked elsewhere, but also because I thought that I might be disappointed.

    And, yes, let’s ‘go there’. The use of silence can be very powerful.

  2. I noticed tonight that I sometimes felt the emotion of the moment in the space that followed it – not at the moment itself. Strange that. Let’s not go there.

    To echo Paul, let’s do go there! One thing that bugs me is how often silence is mentioned in the liturgy, but how often that silence is barely long enough to be noticed or put to proper use. I’m all for more quiet time as part of corporate liturgical worship. How can we hear from God if we are doing all the talking?

    I’m leading Evening Prayer tonight at my parish and plan on including as much silence as I can get away with!

    (Hum, maybe if our Primates stopped talking and just sat quietly waiting to hear the still small voice of God many a problem in the Anglican Communion could be resolved.)

  3. Re worship that takes you by the throat: a favourite quote from the American novelist Annie Dillard. “On the whole, I do not find Christians, outside of the catacombs, sufficiently sensible of conditions. Does anyone have the foggiest idea what sort of power we so blithely invoke? Or, as I suspect, does no one believe a word of it? The churches are children, playing on the floor with their chemistry sets, mixing up a batch of TNT to kill a Sunday morning. It is madness to wear ladies’ straw hats and velvet hats to church; we should all be wearing crash helmets. Ushers should issue life preservers and signal flares; they should lash us to our pews. For the sleeping God may wake someday and take offence, or the waking God may draw us out to where we can never return.”(Teaching a Stone to Talk )

  4. I thought the title was a reference to the ROG incident at Saturday’s international…

  5. I noticed tonight that I sometimes felt the emotion of the moment in the space that followed it – not at the moment itself. Strange that. Let’s not go there.

    Let’s do! I often feel in prayer that more happens in the ‘cracks’ between the words rather than in the words themselves.

    I think it’s a listening and receptive space, but more than that, perhaps a space that cannot be controlled.

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: