Saturday, October 15, 2016

Make a Joyful Noise


It was time to try something different. Whenever we have had the Open Choir as part of our service we would try and integrate their musical style with our service. But this time it was time to let the whole service roll with their energy and rhythm, truly reflect the way of work. Give it a chance to breathe. 

Larger crowd than normal. Several here just to see/hear the Grotowski folks. I used this line from Psalm 66 to frame the whole service:“Make a Joyful Noise to God, all the Earth”
We began as usual with our song by Bishop Tutu:“Goodness is Stronger than Evil” :

Goodness is stronger than evil;
love is stronger than hate;
light is stronger than darkness;
life is stronger than death.
Victory is ours, victory is ours
through him who loved us.
Victory is ours, victory is ours
through him who loved us.
We do the Psalm together as an OPENING PROCLAMATION:

Make a joyful noise to God, all the earth;
sing the glory of his name;
give to him glorious praise.
Say to God, “How awesome are your deeds!
Because of your great power, your enemies cringe before you.
All the earth worships you;
they sing praises to you,
sing praises to your name.”Selah
Come and see what God has done:
he is awesome in his deeds among mortals.
He turned the sea into dry land;
they passed through the river on foot.
There we rejoiced in him,
who rules by his might forever,
whose eyes keep watch on the nations—
let the rebellious not exalt themselves.Selah
Bless our God, O peoples,
let the sound of his praise be heard,
who has kept us among the living,
and has not let our feet slip.
For you, O God, have tested us;
you have tried us as silver is tried.
You brought us into the net;
you laid burdens on our backs;
you let people ride over our heads;
we went through fire and through water;
yet you have brought us out to a spacious place.[a]
Make a joyful noise to God, all the earth!

And then it was time for the Workcenter of Jerzy Grotowski and Thomas Richards
Felicita begins
sang her usual opening song"Ho Everyone who Thirsts” from Isiah 55 and then Aga brought the action of a woman in the crowd, with text from Thomas’ Gospel “Blessed is the womb that bore you and the breast that fed you.” And then Graziele performed one of their standards from the African American tradtition: “Child of God”
After reading from Thomas’ Gospel “Woe to the Pharisees and the scribes, ” Jorge brought a song from his Andean culture, "El NiƱito de Maria" followed by Feli’s soulful "Madre Agua”.

We read together from the prophet Jeremiah 29: 1, 4-7 about “seeking the welfare of the city where you are” and then Eduardo’s “City of Refuge” naturally followed.

My friend Daniel shared "Ada al Kaun" and the text from Schrawardi, “The story of the Western Exile" and another song "La Ilaha Illa la”. Russ recognized then as coming for the Sufi tradition and this was probably the first time the words Allah u akbar have bene chanted at West Park.

Then another text from Thomas’ Gospel:

“Recognize that which is in your sight” and Jeremy led us into the African-American “Can't Nobody Hide" followed by Carol’s  “I Couldn’t Hear Nobody Pray”
Carol sings
and Grazier’s “Look How They Done My Lord” (not a mumblin’ word)

Aga returned with the action of a woman in the silence with text from Thomas’ Gospel “Whomever drinks from my mouth will become as I am and the hidden things will be revealed to him.”

Action with text from Thomas’ Gospeland Felicia followed with “He’s All” (Felicita)

Jorge embodied an old man with Nativity texts we returned to Spanish with Ururu Usurer by Jorge and Reina de los Jardines by Felicita.

Jeremy brought to life his Russian Jewish grandfather and "Hold to His Hand" and Aga took off with text from Thomas’ Gospel “The kingdom of the sky is like a mustard seed” with a brilliant riff on the birds who made nests in the bush that grew from the mustard seed.
Aga "bird speaks"

And finally, Mario’s Here am I, send me. 
John R, Rachel, Mario and Billy


Reading this, you don’t hear/see/feel the music, the words. What was also different this time is that the Workcenter has worked primarily in the tradition of African American Southern (pre) Gospel must and movement. This time, different participants went into their own traditions to find songs that find what my friend Katherine used to call the same channel but from different anguages and cultures, Chrisitan, Muslim, Jewish, Spanish, Arabic, Hebrew…

I am still intrigued and somewhat puzzled at the whole process. Each performer, and they are performers, creates a character for whom this music is vital. They become that character as they perform the song.

Where is the line between this and worship? What does the performer experience emotionally and spirituality? When  is a line crossed between presenting/putting on and actually being?

Even more so, I’m intrigued by the collection of young people who come from all over the world to go to Pontedara, Italy and immerse themselves in this practice. Much like the Dzieci company (the church of Dzieci) and even the Bread and Puppet Company in Vermont.

I intuitively understand that tall these are connected to that experience we call church, but not sure I can fully articulate that or draw the connection together. In the emerging world we live in, there is something vitally rich and important happening here.

For more, listen to my friend Russ’ podcast interview with Mario :

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