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Bryan D. Spinks


Let's Dance

Soon after the Anglican diocese of New Westminster in Canada openly used a public liturgical service of blessing for a same-sex union in defiance of the statement of the Primates of the Anglican Communion, the Province of Nigeria excommunicated the Canadian diocese, noting in passing that whereas that diocese had but 5,000 members, the Province of Nigeria has 17 million Anglicans and perhaps is more representative of majority Anglican views than is the bishop of New Westminster. This event is an important reminder to the Euro-North American churches that they no longer represent the vast majority of world Christians. We are in the era of global Christianity, in which the older Western churches need to listen to the growing and vibrant churches of Africa, Asia, and South America. In his timely book on worship music from around the globe, Michael Hawn not only shows us the richness of cultural diversity (where "diversity" is not merely a fashionable slogan) but also shows how sung prayer may function to bring unity out of diversity, a unity that revels in the glorious multiplicity of God's creation.

Hawn, associate professor of church music at Perkins School of Theology in Dallas, Texas, has spent much of his time not just in library research but in visiting and working with church musicians around the world. Highlighted in this book are Pablo Sosa (Argentina), I-to Loh (Taiwan), David Dargie (South Africa) and Patrick Matsikenyiri (Zimbabwe), and John Bell (Scotland). Hawn also discusses what he calls "the office of musical enlivener," taking as his example the Mennonite musician, Mary Oyer.

Hawn suggests that his book offers a "third way" in the worship wars that are roiling congregations in North America and Great Britain. Typically this conflict is framed as a choice between a "traditional" liturgy (reflecting the consensus which emerged among mainline Protestant churches after Vatican II) and "contemporary" worship (though often this is in fact a perpetuation of the ...

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