I finished graduate studies three months ago, and I’ve spent the summer recovering, attending some conferences, and collecting books.
During five years of Master’s work I perused a lot of publications. There were always more that I wanted to read but could not due to the rigors of prescribed study. Many books went to my wishlist, and I found a few bargains during the last few weeks.
So here is a short list of titles recently added to my library, listed in no particular order . . .
Constance M. Cherry, The Worship Architect: A Blueprint for Designing Culturally Relevant and Biblically Faithful Services (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2010).
The Worship Architect combines theological insight, artistic creativity, and pastoral wisdom in its discussion of creating engaging worship services that are faithful to scripture and historically conscious. I had the fortune of meeting Constance Cherry at a conference this summer, and our conversation made me even more eager to read her work.
Constance M. Cherry, The Special Service Worship Architect: Blueprints for Weddings, Funerals, Baptisms, Holy Communion, and Other Occasions (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2013).
I found this book on my friend’s shelf when I stayed with him for a few days in July. After I scanned a chapter I knew that it should also be on my shelf. As a professor of worship, Cherry wrote this follow-up to her Worship Architect because she had not found a source that describes what to do in these types of services as well as why. She writes about the biblical, theological, historical, and pastoral underpinnings for planning and leading these services. It is a great practical help supported by theological background!
Constance M. Cherry, Mary M. Brown, and Christopher T. Bounds, Selecting Worship Songs: A Guide for Leaders (Marion, IN: Triangle Publishing, 2011).
Coauthored by a theologian, a writer, and a musician, this short volume claims to provide a practical rubric by which songs can be assessed to determine how they can fit within a congregation’s worship. I am interested to read their criteria as well as their approach to developing it.
Greg Scheer, The Art of Worship: A Musician’s Guide to Leading Modern Worship (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2006).
Greg is an acquaintance of mine, and he is a skilled musician who thinks deeply church music. He is uninterested in a debate over musical style. The goal of this book is to help church musicians better understand and lead contemporary worship music. Reviewers write that it is a very practical guide.
Austin C. Lovelace, The Anatomy of Hymnody (Chicago: GIA Publications, 1965).
Although he passed away in 2010, Lovelace remains a hero of the Hymn Society in the United States and Canada, an organization with which I am involved. The composer and church organist wrote this volume on the relationship between meter, matter, and music in 1965, and it was reprinted in 1985 and again in 2008. I intend to read it in order to brush up on my understanding of poetic devices and the structure of hymnody.
James K. A. Smith, Imagining the Kingdom: How Worship Works, Cultural Liturgies volume 2 (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2013).
This is the successor to Jamie Smith’s Desiring the Kingdom, which I read for a seminary class a few years ago. He is a thoughtful writer with innovating ways of thinking, and I look forward to this book stretching my mind.
Robert E. Webber, Worship is a Verb (Waco, TX: Word Books, 1985).
I purchased this book for two simple reasons: First, Webber has a fine reputation as a scholar and a thinker about worship. Second, the title caught my eye because in a recent presentation I argued that, for many Christians in America, worship has changed from being a verb to being a noun. Apparently Webber was onto this idea back before I was born.
Gordon W. Lathrop, Holy People: A Liturgical Ecclesiology (Minneapolis: Augsburg Fortress, 1999).
Lathrop addresses practical, ecumenical, and cultural concerns in this volume on liturgical theology in the contemporary setting. He describes what it looks like when a Christian community is centered on the widely shared ecumenical patterns of liturgy. This is the second of a trilogy, so a couple more books may soon be added to my wish list.
John L. Bell, The Singing Thing: A Case for Congregational Song (Chicago: GIA Publications, 2000). John L. Bell, The Singing Thing Too: Enabling Congregations to Sing (Chicago: GIA Publications, 2007).
I purchased the first of these two books early in the summer. When John Bell presented at a conference I attended in July, I promptly bought the second volume. True to his personality, Bell’s writing is succinct, poignant, full of wisdom from experience, and marked by humor. The Singing Thing addresses why people sing and why some people do not sing. The sequel connects (light) theology with practical approaches to congregational singing. After writing this overview, I think these two will move to the beginning of my reading list.