The Rise of The Sacred Song Again
If Christian worship culture and worship consciousness emerge from liturgies we create, tonight we pose an interesting dialogue with those who believe contemporary worship music is irrelevant. The true voice of the people must emerge for transparent artistic expression to come to fruition. Genre is about people. Worship is about God.
Perhaps twenty-five years from now we might entertain the notion that the eclectic musical offerings of songwriters and composers such as Thomas Tallis, J.S. Bach, Palestrina, Edwin Hawkins, Rosetta Tharpe, Andrae Crouch, Duke Ellington, Igor Stravinsky, Arvo Part, Rita Springer, Aretha Franklin and Chris Tomlin were not only typical products of the rise of the sacred song, they were at the epicenter of fresh thought, artistic endeavor and bold creative worship performance practice. Their musical ideas were fresh.
I would dub tonight’s live recording and musical renderings as Eclectic Fresh. The student composers and songwriters of our Worship Arts Ensemble Class, offered annually at Seattle Pacific University, present their sacred songs. I am encouraged to see such an array of audacious creative expressions coming from the next generation of songwriters, composers and worship leaders. As you listen, let these sacred songs of God’s kingdom and gospel minister to your soul, spirit and mind. I hope you leave this place tonight singing and making melodies in your heart to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I pray the rise of the sacred song will keep your heart singing praises to God again and again.
Stephen Michael Newby, D.M.A.
Director of University Ministries and The Center for Worship
Associate Professor of Music at Seattle Pacific University
Director of the Worship Arts Ensemble
Regarding the Kingdom
For me, equality is the central feature of the kingdom. Equality negates racism, prejudice, judgment, injustice, poverty, pride--ideals, assumptions and values held too tight--selfishness and greed. I think that community, not isolation, is one of the best ways for us to learn how to view everyone equally. When we trust God to help us be open and transparent with each other, we can begin to see his kingdom through the community that we create.
I believe in the power of the arts to lead us toward the kingdom. These songs and words come straight from our souls, often expressing deeply personal experiences and emotions. We desire to draw you into our experiences by our music, hoping that you will enter into worship with us. I encourage you to let yourself be moved by these melodies and words, to connect with them, and to search for the kingdom with us.
Heather Fink ‘09
Vice President of Ministries
Associated Students of Seattle Pacific
Regarding the Gospel
When Matthew introduces us to John the Baptist, we find a man wandering about the wilderness preaching the kingdom of heaven is near. Only a few verses later we find Jesus preaching the exact same message. Continuing throughout Jesus’ ministry, we find him returning often to this idea of the kingdom. After even the most cursory of gospel readings, one soon begins to develop some sense that this idea of the kingdom is central to what it is that Jesus came do. The simple frequency with which Jesus talks about the kingdom should tell us in clearest terms that understanding the kingdom is central to understanding the significance of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection.
As a university, we’ve spent this last year looking closely at this idea of the kingdom. What is it about the kingdom that motivated Jesus to spend so much time talking about it? While I can’t claim any greater understanding of the kingdom than any person gathered here tonight, I can share just a few of the observations that our journey this year has led me to discover.
The kingdom is bigger than we think.
Every time I think I am beginning to understand what the kingdom is, I realize that I’m wrong. As soon as we begin the process of delineating the borders of “kingdom” and trying to define what it is and what it isn’t we run into trouble. To define what is versus what isn’t is an inherently divisive process, and we have every reason in the world to believe that the kingdom is not divisive—it is not something that separates, and it is not something that alienates or estranges. Nevertheless, it is clear that our world is broken. It is clear that there is deep pain that surrounds us daily. It is clear that there are things in this world that run counter to Jesus’ message of the kingdom. In these circumstances, we must cling firmly to the message that Jesus left us, as recorded in 2 Corinthians 5—that God was reconciling the world to himself through Christ. The ministry of the kingdom is a ministry of reconciliation, and this is something that I am convinced is bigger than I understand. Maybe I’m alone in this conviction… but I doubt it.
The kingdom is intrinsically connected with healing and restoration.
When Jesus sends his disciples out, he does two things. He instructs them to go out and preach the good news of the kingdom, and he gives them the ability to cure illness and heal the broken. It is impossible to consider the kingdom without considering the reality that the kingdom is about restoration.
The kingdom is here already, but not yet fully.
Spending these last several months working with the Worship Arts Ensemble has given me an extraordinary opportunity to peer into little pockets of the kingdom that surround us daily. The scriptures testify to the reality that Jesus’ life, death and resurrection inaugurated his kingdom here on earth. Yet, we know too that there is unspeakable despair and brokenness in this world. We’re caught in the middle. Christ has come, and Christ will come again. In the meantime, we Christians are left here with a partly built but ever-growing kingdom. What in the world could be our response to this reality?
The message of the kingdom is good news, and this good news is the gospel.
Nate Berends ‘09
2008-09 SPU Worship Arts Ensemble
Download the official Showcase Playbill
Production Staff and Acknowledgements
President Philip W. Eaton, Ph.D.,
Professor Stephen Michael Newby, D.M.A
associate producer, concert
Seattle Pacific University,
Mixed & Mastered With Care At
FreshMadeMedia, Seattle, Washington
Concert Ears/Monitor Engineers
the kingdom & the gospel presenting partners
The Center For Worship at Seattle Pacific University
The Department of Music at Seattle Pacific University
The Seattle Pacific University Worship Arts Ensemble
for university ministries
for the spu music department
Dr. Ramona Holmes,
Professor of Music,
Seattle Pacific University
Dr. Stephen Michael Newby,
Associate Professor of Music,
Seattle Pacific University
assistant artistic director
Adjunct Music Faculty,
Seattle Pacific University