Day 6 Worship Conference 2017: The Light that Knows No End

Read about Day 5 HERE!

What a lovely week.

I am now sitting at home watching my cat Riza run around. I am thoroughly exhausted, which is good. If any of you were at the conference and feel the same way I do, then well done. That means that you made the most of your time while you were at Carthage College in Kenosha, Wisconsin.

To those of you that weren't able to go, I pray that you will seriously consider attending in the future. As I've said before, this conference isn't just for music people! It's for everyone. It gives people ideas for worship. It allows laypeople to open a dialogue with their pastor, worship coordinator, or worship committee on ways to enhance worship. It provides so many resources for all the members of Christ's church.

The finished Pentecost artwork. (See yesterday's blog.)
Today we had a simple schedule. (Simple, at least, for those not at all involved in the chapel events of the day. If you had any of those scheduled...well, you were busy.) After breakfast everyone gathered for Pentecost worship. (Pentecost, by the way, has turned into my favorite Christian holiday.) We were led in worship by piano and a variety of instruments, from bass guitar, guitar, and a drum set to strings, oboe, clarinet, flute, and saxophone. A small choir led us in the more challenging songs that were commissioned for this service.

Some might say that the service was "contemporary." (That's even how many people categorized it at the conference. They would tell each other, "This morning is the contemporary service." But let's be honest. The word "contemporary" means "existing in the present" or "occurring at the same time." If you think about that first definition, the "Isaiah Mighty Seer in Days of Old" we sang yesterday is also a contemporary piece, but very different from the "Come, Holy Ghost, God and Lord" that we sang this morning. So can we just call it "worship" please?

The service was a great way to point out to people alternative ways of worship while still keeping the focus squarely on God the Holy Spirit.

My only sectional of the day was a choral reading for unison/2-part music. It had some nice items, but nothing that would really work for Junior Choir. I made sure to put on my evaluation form, "Please include a Junior Choir choral reading session next time!" We'll see if they listen to my request.

The Children's Choir and Honor Choir
Finally we all gathered in the chapel one last time to hear the hard work put forth by the grade school and high school choirs that have been around all week. While the Children's Choir had been adding to worship in many of the services, the Honor Choir had been working up to this closing concert, and it was our first time hearing them.

They did a great job following conductor Jon Laabs, and you could tell they were enjoying the pieces that they performed. They really got down to Robert Ray's piece "Credo: I Believe In God" from The Gospel Mass. It was funky and the congregation had fun, too!

My favorite piece actually came from the Children's Choir, and it was written by current favorite composer Dan Forrest. "Psalm 8" had amazing dissonant chords from the choir combined with a piano that did not do much assistance to the kids (but was beautiful), violin, and djembe.

We ended the concert as we always have done since 1996: singing "Jerusalem the Golden" using the tune "Jupiter" from Gustav Holtz' The Planets. In 2014 Dale Witte composed the perfect arrangement of this song with which to end the concert. When the piece began the same way today, I was thrilled! If they decide to use this arrangement from now until the end of time to finish our WELS Worship Conferences, I would not be disappointed at all.

Final BINGO tally. Alas, no blackout. But
I did get a lot of comments about it!
Many tears were shed during the singing of that final hymn, because that piece now has etched itself into many people's hearts as "the Worship Conference piece." It reminds us of the fond memories we have created in the past, the wonderful sermons, songs, artwork that we've experienced, and the great friends we have found. Put all of that into one song, and the waterworks are going to start for sure.

I take away many physical notes, papers, and music, but I primarily take away a sense of community between all these people. We all come to this conference with a yearning to make worship better at our home congregations. Hopefully we learn how to educate those same congregation members and open dialogue so that we don't get shut down or create rifts in worship. We seek to unify, not promote ourselves!

So what will you do with all this new knowledge? What one item will you definitely share?

I take this away: all our praise, no matter how it's done, will continue to praise God forever. As "Jerusalem the Golden"'s final stanza says,

"To God enthroned in glory the Church's voices blend,
the Lamb forever blessed, the Light that knows no end."

It's been a privilege to stay up late writing these articles for you to enjoy. My Europe trip is in nine days, can you believe it?! I'll be blogging as much as I can, so please like Blurb Musings on Facebook or bookmark this website to stay updated on all the fun I'm experiencing overseas! 

One final Worship Conference video to wrap all this up. This is "Jerusalem the Golden" from Friday, June 16, 2017. Take care, everyone! (Video by Dale Witte)


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