Tag

worship leading

Celebrating Family

By | JBU Alumni, Liturgy, Music, Performance, Worship Arts | No Comments

During your four years at JBU, you meet a lot of people. You hear a lot of chapel speakers, sit in a lot of classes, go to a lot of church services, show up to a lot of resident life events, play on different intramural teams, and cheer in the athletic stands with a lot of community members.

Years down the road, you may find yourself accepting a friend request or following an Instagram feed of someone you know you met at JBU but can’t quite recall specifics about him or her. Your circles didn’t coincide much, but you know you were students at JBU together and that “connection” will always feel somewhat safe and known.

On the contrary, there are other people you meet at JBU that will be a part of you for the rest of your life. You might not talk all that often or name your kids after each other or even ever live in the same town again, but time and distance won’t change the place these people hold.

As a professor in the middle of my 7th year of teaching at JBU, it is one of my greatest privileges to watch these relationships form in the Department of Music & Theatre. On the first day of classes, I watch all of the freshman hurry to their Elements of Theory class with Dr. and Mrs. Wubbena. They are a rag-tag group of musicians – some with great ears, some with great minds, some with great charisma hoping to quickly develop their ears and minds, and some stand-out students with the whole “well-rounded musician” package. Silent comparisons fly; insecurities manifest themselves in loud, nervous laughter. It’s a beautiful scene pregnant with possibility.

I watch these students travel through the degree program together, and, as they do, they become one of the most authentic examples of community you’ll ever find. You see, every degree program this department has to offer is flat-out hard. These students get one hour of academic credit for 8-10 hours of work outside the studio or the classroom. They are held to graduate level standards in most courses. Together, these students tutor each other, study together, fail together and encourage each other to try again. They speak truth to each other when self-doubt and deprecation are looming. They create together, laugh together, and live and breathe music together. Not all of them make it through the program, but for those who do, they are forever part of our family. There’s something about becoming more with someone that leaves them inked on your heart forever.

Over 15 years ago, I traveled this same journey as an undergraduate student at JBU. To this day, I can still not only name the students I traveled with, but I can tell you where they are and what they are doing. When I think back to those difficult mornings of musicianship where we all desperately prayed for our name not to be called for sight singing, I had no idea that I was sitting amongst a group of individuals who would someday make a successful run in opera performance, finish PhDs and teach at prestigious universities, compose well-known choral works, write music textbooks, attend the Country Music Awards as a songwriter, or be a worship leader who works to integrate liturgy and contemporary music in the church.

This is the beauty of the department of Music & Theatre. The marriage of hard work and intimate, committed community is one that does not disappoint.

Seth Primm is a worship leader at Mosaic NWA, a Saturday night congregation at Fellowship Bible Church in Lowell, AR. Seth is one of the amazing people I grew to call family while here at JBU. While a student here, he was a standout tenor voice, a member of the Cathedral Choir, and a founding member of the men’s quartet. His arranging skills were innovative and fresh, and his ear was impeccable. After he gradated, he married Joy Elliott (who happened to be one of my roommates at JBU) and eventually accepted a worship leading position at Fellowship Bible Church. Since arriving at Fellowship, Seth has been instrumental in the development and growth of the Saturday night congregation called Mosaic. Seth and the worshipping community of Mosaic are releasing a new album of worship songs written for the Advent season. Give a listen to the song below and then click here to pre-order the full album.

Congratulations to Seth and his team. The Department of Music & Theatre at JBU is proud to call you “one of ours,” and we celebrate the gifts you have been given and the Kingdom work you are pursuing.

Getting Out of the Pew

By | Leadership, Liturgy, Music, Theology, Worship Arts | One Comment

“I am much more comfortable right there in the pew”

Lea Finder sheepishly said this on Sunday night at the Gathering, nearly as soon as she walked on stage. And it was one of those honest moments that hits you so hard you make this weird sort of “grunt of agreement” sound, and then you nod a lot—at least I did anyway. Then I thought…

“Am I much more comfortable here in the pew?”

While observing services at a local church, I noticed that there appears to be a lack of congregational participation through out the service. Other than singing or laughing at the pastor’s jokes about the Seinfeld clips he uses to relate to the sermon, there is an understood notion of “I stay here in my seat with my coffee, and I watch, listen, and sing. Boom.” So there is almost a learned sense of…

“I am much more comfortable here in this chair.”

During the Reformation era of the 16th century, Martin Luther challenged the ways of Catholic Europe. Interestingly, one of Luther’s many reforms had to do with congregational participation during the worship service. He proposed the adaptation of Gregorian chant, secular art music, and even popular tunes into strophic four-part harmony set in the vernacular German text. This encouraged the congregation to participate more by making the music more accessible to the people. These works were called chorales and are an example of balance between being led and singing all together.

Eventually, over time, this idea of creating accessible liturgy for the church by adapting forms of pop culture contributed to all sorts of different congregations reciting creeds, prayers, calls to worship, and other things together. The congregation became an active part of the service by accepting an invitation to join in worship with the body of Christ. Today, however, there is a natural lean towards pursuing individualism rather than togetherness. Perhaps we have forgotten the beauty and power brought on by the Reformation?

So often I go into a service with a terrible attitude. I am focused on trying to avoid that weird mom who talks a lot or that person I forgot to text back about helping out with the youth group. I just walk in, grab coffee, and go to my seat. This is such a limiting, comfortable way to approach worshipping as a body. I don’t even think about my brothers and sisters that surround me. I like my space.

It takes great faith to learn to get up out of the pew, as Lea confessed. It takes great faith to choose to add your voice to the hundreds of voices around you and throughout history and to believe your voice matters.

“Lord, here are my hands. They’re small, they’re small and

Here are my hands, they’re small and trembling.

Here are my dreams, they’re me protected,

Here are my dreams, so please be gentle now…”

~Aaron Niequist (A New Liturgy)

 

Lord, use us today for the good of your Kingdom. Guide our thoughts, words, and actions in every encounter we face, so that we may know you more and consider all other gains as loss. Let us grow tired from sitting comfortable, and give us the strength to stand up and join in with your body.

 

~Hannah