Praise as Defiance in the Face of Suffering and Death

Catherine Delve - Praise as Defiance in the Face of Suffering and Death

Praise as Default

Ever since I was a child, I’ve known something of the power of praise. Praise was a default after my dad walked out, albeit after 24 hours once the initial shock had passed. It seemed something of a rebellious act—my own small act of rebellion in the face of disaster and grief. And it has seemed like this at multiple times since, when all appeared to be lost. Whether close to bankruptcy (a fair few times), or dealing with the onset of a chronic health condition in my 30s (which threatened to lead to confinement to a wheelchair), facing the seemingly impossible has been a regular occurrence in my life, as I’m sure it probably has been in yours too.

When Paul and Silas found themselves in prison in Acts 16:25, facing the injustice and humiliation of a Roman flogging and having their feet restrained in stocks, their response was to praise God. I can’t imagine that this was praise born out of thanksgiving for the situation in which they found themselves. A Roman flogging was not like a tame rap on the knuckles. It was a brutal act; their backs were likely torn and bleeding. They would have been in terrible pain and discomfort. Nonetheless, they continued to believe that God was exactly who he said he was, and they praised him as a result. As they did so, something powerful was released. There was an earthquake and the prison doors flew open! Freedom manifested itself.

In the West, our challenges are normally less extreme, but nonetheless they are real. But now, the unparalleled and testing times we find ourselves in globally as a result of the coronavirus are stretching many of us to our limits, and for many, are extreme. The grief of the loss of loved ones, the feelings of loss of control, the sudden loss of income for so many, and uncertainty about the future presses in on every side. It is so easy at times like this to feel blind-sided by our circumstances and to be overcome by fear or anxiety. Equally, it is easy to question where is God in all of this. Where are you God when I can’t seem to see you or feel you? And indeed, who are you, God? Can I trust that you are good, that your mercy is new every morning?

NT Wright wrote an insightful piece recently (you can read it here), which despite its clickbait title, helpfully encourages us to join God in lamenting the tragedies which overwhelm us. As my friend and OT scholar Matt Lynch has already identified, the charismatic church doesn’t really know how to lament if the lyrics of the top one hundred songs in contemporary Christian music are anything to go by.[1] Now would be as good a time as any other for us to focus on developing this. However, what our tradition is much better at is eschatological hope. Consider some of the songs of the moment: Raise a Hallelujah, Way Maker, God of Revival, Good Grace to name but a few.[2] Much of our sung congregational worship is of this ilk. Perhaps we could even say that this trend in contemporary Christian music has led us to build a somewhat lopsided tradition which knows how to do declaration and hope, but knows less how to do reverence or lament.

In times such as these, this lopsidedness poses challenges and demands that we become more thoughtful and nuanced in what we are singing and why. Sometimes it is very challenging to sing songs of hope when hope is in danger of being drowned out by fear and death. Is it even appropriate to sing songs like this when people are dying, businesses are failing, many of the self-employed have lost their incomes overnight, and victims of domestic violence are in lockdown with their abusers and more at risk than ever? Isn’t this type of worship triumphalistic and naive?

I would like to suggest that just as Paul and Silas raised their voices to sing while they were in prison, we could do the same whatever our ‘prison’ is. It is at times like this in particular that we need to hold onto our hope more than ever. Do we really believe and trust that God is who he says he is and that he will accomplish all he has promised? This is not inappropriate triumphalism. We may not see the realisation of his promises in our own lives this side of eternity, but we pray in the promises for the world nonetheless. That is where our faith is truly tested and stretched. Just as Israel questioned where YHWH had gone in their time of exile, we may well wonder where God is, but let’s not be mistaken in believing that God has abandoned us. Now is the time for us to put our hope squarely in the right place. It is not about being naive. People are dying and will continue to, whether from Covid-19 or of something else, despite our best efforts (rightly so) to prevent it. However, one day I will die, and one day you will die! The essence of our faith is trusting that death does not have the final word.

However, praise as a form of defiance is not just about declarations of hope. It is also about resisting the powers. Twentieth-century theologian, William Stringfellow, brilliantly articulates the reality of the principalities and powers as aligned with either the power of death or the power of life.[3] He observed that war is a symptom of death, and not the other way around, i.e. death is not a symptom of war. This same logic applies to Covid-19. This virus is a symptom of the power of death powerfully at work in our world. Death is not a result of the coronavirus. The coronavirus is the result of death. As such, our resistance as Christians is against the manifestation of death in all its forms, rooted in the hope we have that death has been swallowed up in the victory of Christ on the cross.

Thus praise is our defiance in the face of death. Praise is our small act of rebellion in the face of fear, loss, grief and isolation. Except it is not a small act, it’s a powerful one. The power of the resurrection life of Jesus cannot be contained. The tomb couldn’t contain him; nothing since has contained him. Whatever state the church has been in—whether limping or running, colluding or serving, complicit or cooperating, defeated or empowered by the Spirit—the resurrection power of Jesus has broken through. My faith and yours are a testament to this.

So today, tomorrow and for as long as my body has breath in it, my praise will continue to be my powerful act of rebellion and defiance—rebellion against the power of death, and against the power of fear. I encourage you to try it! Even when it’s a sacrifice, even when I’m grief-stricken, even when I feel weak and out of control, I will declare with every fibre of my being that Jesus has overcome the power of sin and death. While taking faltering steps towards a better co-expression of joy, pain, reverence and hope, my cry is ‘Come Lord Jesus, come.’ In my life, in the lives of those in my household, in the life of the church, in the life of my neighbours, in the life of all in my city and nation, in the nations. Come on, Church! I believe this. We believe this. Now is the time to raise our corporate voice, our corporate and powerful act of rebellion against the power and fear of death.


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Charismatic Christians, Crisis, and Coronavirus: Part II

This is the second of a series of three posts on Charismatic Christians, Crisis, and Coronavirus. For part one go HERE.

Faith Not Fear or Denial?

Here’s another bit of a verse, ‘…perfect love casts out fear…’ (The middle of 1 John 4:18). I’m not going to go into detail of the context of this fragment here, but the main thrust of these verses is that those who have put their trust in Jesus and who are abiding in God’s love need not fear the final judgement. It really isn’t about God’s love casting out all the fears we have from spiders to dark alleys to plane crashes. It’s not that I don’t think God doesn’t help us not to fear in general. I believe he does, and I have my own testimony of being delivered of specific fears. But this verse used as a way of telling people that they should choose faith, not fear is laden with burdens for the believer. Is it the perfection of God’s love in me that will cast out my fear or the perfection of my love for God? Either way, how do I make this happen? What do I do when I fear?

Life itself and our loved ones are a precious gift from God and proof of their goodness is how desperately we don’t want to lose them. It is not wrong to feel deep anguish over suffering and the prospect of death, our own, our loved ones, those we have never met. One of the most poignant and powerful stories in our Bibles is the story of Jesus in Gethsemane. He was entirely on his own and the disciples were asleep so he must have confided in his disciples later what he went through that night. Jesus held tenaciously to his human life, facing grief and anguish and even sweating drops of blood at the prospect of human suffering and death, while also being willing to submit it wholly to his Father (Matt 26:37-42; Lk 22:41-44; Mk 14:34-36). He taught his disciples to do the same.

It’s natural to fear in a crisis, to wake up in the night in a cold sweat or a panic. But we won’t strengthen one another by forcing each other into denial. And we certainly won’t strengthen one another with false promises. If fear is threatening to swamp us, we are going to need good practices and strategies for this and in my experience, it will require many different approaches. Immersing ourselves in our favourite psalms, listening to music, getting our friends to pray, praying in tongues, focussed breathing, talking to a loved one. How about recognizing fear and anguish as a prayerful longing that things would change and be different, and offering it to God as a sacrifice, laying it on the altar with all our tears. We can and should encourage one another to grow in our complete trust in God, but I imagine that overcoming fear will be a process and not a one-off prayer.


This brings me to lament and grief. I’ve loved working with my colleague, Matt Lynch, for the last eight years. He’s taught me a lot about the need for a church that laments, and I’ve seen how powerful his teaching is for our students and those who hear it.

Matt writes,

‘Lament opposes denial and false optimism. It acknowledges honestly before God the distress, ill-health, dangers, and troubles that we face. Prayers and songs of lament constitute nearly 40% of Psalms, yet mainstream Charismatic worship hardly gives it a passing nod. Unfortunately, that leaves the church poorly discipled to face times of calamity with the kind of raw honesty that we see in Psalms. Ignoring lament also distances us from the example of Jesus, who lamented from the cross and throughout his life (Matt 27:46; Heb 5:7), and from life in the Spirit, who groans and laments to the Father (Rom 8:26).[1]’ For more of Matt’s reflections on lament, see his series of posts here.

Charismatics are so bad at acknowledging pain and loss, especially during a crisis, unless it’s part of a story where God has turned my mourning into dancing. (Ps 30:11) We can sow in tears as long as we are going to reap with shouts of joy. (Ps 126:5) The idea of a permanent sense of loss or grief is excluded from our narratives. We often only share our testimonies once we have a happy ending.

We are facing potentially huge griefs and losses, some have already seen loved ones die, and even now people are having to deal with small but not insignificant griefs and losses. It may seem trivial in life and death situations, but the pain of leaving school friends and college friends with no goodbyes is hard, letting go of weddings, funerals, special occasions, longed for holidays—these will all take their toll. There will be many mini-griefs alongside the major ones. On top of that, we’re watching as other countries face the most appalling tragedies and this and our own unfolding tragedies will sow its own trauma.

I was brought up by a mother whose own mother died when she was six days old and I would say she had a permanent sense of loss. She never knew her mother. Her father remarried a woman who couldn’t take her mother’s place, and her own mothering was coloured by a sense that she was giving what she never had herself. The wounding in my mother changed her faith, her view of God, and her compassion for others. She became an amazingly gifted bereavement counsellor and chaplain, working first in a hospice, and then a men’s prison until her mid-70s. She taught us that joy lives side by side with pain, that you can dance even though you mourn, and that you can weep with those who weep and rejoice with those who rejoice. I imagine we are all going to have to learn this gift in the years to come.

God’s Will?

Someone put on Facebook recently that they had seen people saying things like God has caused this crisis, this is God’s will, God is giving us what we deserve. I haven’t seen that kind of thing, but we all know this happens. The idea of God’s control or not of the events of history is a complex and emotive issue and I’m not going to go into all the nuances of the debates here because it requires some in-depth biblical and philosophical reasoning. It’s a good reason to study theology to explore these questions.

What I do want to say first of all, is that it’s very natural, whatever our belief systems and worldviews to try and find a reason for what is happening, especially when we’ve been blindsided by tragedy. So people of all faiths and no faith will try to identify a cause within their own framework of knowing why this crisis is happening. They will look for explanations within what they know of how the world works. This could be in relation to God, or the gods and goddesses. It could be attributed to the selfishness and exploitative nature of human beings (if you are not a Christian) or what we would call sin if you are. A friend of mine sent me an article on the link between Corona and 5G. Or, it maybe you see this virus as the world running according to its own natural forces. We just happen to be on the raw end of it all right now.

I think there will always be people who attribute absolutely everything that happens in the world (including the bad things) to God’s ‘will’ and, to be fair, we can find a foundation for that in the Bible, expressed in different ways in different places, perhaps especially in the OT prophets. Some biblical writers depict suffering or disaster as having been inflicted by God either as a punishment, or to bring people to repentance, or both. These passages sit alongside promises of restoration, complete forgiveness, boundless mercy, and the assurance that God will keep his covenant promises. And this is not a case of pitting the OT wrathful God against the forgiving Jesus of the NT. For a meditation on how God does not treat us as our sins deserve, but forgives all our iniquity and heals all our diseases, why not memorize Psalm 103? It sounds remarkably like the God of Jesus to me.

When God does come to earth in Christ, he reinforces the extraordinary truth that God so loves the world, he has come to save it. The incarnation tells us that God the Son takes on the frailty of human flesh and the vulnerability of a fully human existence to redeem our earthly lives. He comes to earth to take on our sin and suffering into himself, into his very being, to die in our place, to defeat death through his resurrection, and by doing so, to transform our corrupt and broken existence into a new and perfect creation. He comes to earth in love to win us back to himself. This is God’s will for humanity—that all should be saved (1 Tim 2:3-5).

As for whether this signals the end times or not, Christians throughout the ages have believed that the end is imminent. So far, they’ve been wrong, but who’s to say when someone will be right? Christians are perpetually called to live their lives as if they might end tomorrow. It seems, though, that for those of us who live in a world where that has seemed so unlikely for so long, have simply forgotten that this is the case.

In the final post, I look at the importance of history, and where we might turn to in the Bible for understanding and comfort.

For the final post, go HERE

[1] Greek στεναγμός, used here of the Spirit’s groanings, is used throughout the Greek Old Testament to describe the act of lament (e.g., Ps 12:5 = LXX 11:6).

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Harvest_Community_Church_Goshen_Worship_Service_1-24-2016 (1)

A Time for Minor Chords (Part III): Objections to Lament

[This is Part III of a series on lament. Part I is HERE, and Part II HERE]

Objections objections…

Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. (Jas 4:9)

Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, ‘children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.’
Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky (Phil 2:14)

In the popular worship scene, lament songs exist. Sometimes they’re even sung. I appreciate the efforts of those with enough facility in musical style and lyric to lead God’s people in lament, and through lament, to praise.

By Scott Lucht (Own work) [GFDL -http://bit.ly/2pPqcTG]

But attempts to shift contemporary music toward substantial engagement with lament feels like trying to pull a Carnival Cruise off its course with a canoe. Even if it’s headed for rocks. The ship is just too heavy and the music too loud to hear the shouts of those paddling furiously away from the boat—the line taut between them. Those in the canoes might seem like they’re ‘working against’ the boat (big thumbs down!). It might be pointed out—rather obviously—that they’re ‘not on board.’ They’re ‘overly negative’ in all their talk about ‘sharp rocks’ and whatnot. Even more, they’re not grateful for all the benefits offered on the party ship … not to mention Paul’s insistence that we do everything ‘without grumbling or arguing.’

This reaction shouldn’t be surprising, especially since lamenters often describe themselves as isolated and unseemly to others:

Do not ignore me in my time of trouble! Listen to me! When I call out to you, quickly answer me, for my days go up in smoke, and my bones are charred like a fireplace …. I am like an owl in the wilderness, like a screech owl among the ruins (Ps 102:1-6).

The canoe tips over.

Resisting Lament

Why the resistance to lament?

Some reasons are cultural. Maybe we don’t like public displays of negative emotion. Perhaps we ought to endure our hardships quietly, with a stiff upper lip. It can be hard to hear lament.

But I think other reasons are more idiosyncratic to church cultures that emerge in the wake of the mega-ship Carnival Cruise liners. Despite the lyrical gestures toward vulnerability, brokenness, and desperation in the songs I reviewed (in the first post of this series), we’ve simultaneously exorcised the practices that instantiate those ideals—individual confession and lament.

Some Objections

Let me address just a few common objections to the use of lament in worship services.

  1. Lament doesn’t fit the tone of our worship services

It isn’t uncommon to refer to worship services as ‘Celebrations,’ and for churches to seek to create an environment where people—especially visitors—feel warm and welcome. I’m going to sidestep debates about seeker-sensitive church services, but suggest that creating a worship culture that allows people to voice their pain to God is not only welcoming (of all human emotion) but might eventually facilitate a turn toward genuine praise. Maybe worshippers are longing for that kind of environment, where real pain and suffering finds their voice and praise becomes real.

  1. Lament is for personal use

They are, but not exclusively. The psalms are replete with ‘psalms of communal lament,’ set to music. It might be hard for some to imagine … especially if you’re not connected with wider traditions (cf. the African American MAAFA service),[1] and not closely affiliated with an actively practising liturgical tradition,[2] but the biblical evidence tips strongly in favour of laments for communal use. Even individual psalms of lament were often set to music by the choir director (e.g., Ps 5, 88), giving the lonely individual worshipper an opportunity to cry out to God in a corporate environment—or perhaps more to the point, giving the community an opportunity to take up the cry of others.

  1. Lament is uttered by those without hope of the resurrection

(I have actually heard this argument) The basic premise here is that lament is an Old Testament activity, and symptomatic of life BC. But this claim is wrong on two accounts. Individuals in the Old Testament did have hope of resurrection, though perhaps not in the same way Christians would express it (‘But God will rescue my life from the power of the grave’ Ps 49:15).[3] 

But more to the point, I’d be so bold as to say that Jesus had resurrection hope. Yet, from the cross he cried out (from Ps 22:1), ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’ And by the way, Ps 22 is ‘for the choir director, according to the tune …’ In other words, it was meant for inclusion in the worship repertoire. In Gethsemane Jesus’ soul was ‘deeply grieved, even unto death’ (Matt 26:38, echoing Ps 42:5-6).  And he cried out to his father to be spared from the cross.

The author of Hebrews writes that ‘Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to the one who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission. (Heb 5:7). For many of us, this sounds like an oxymoron. How could ‘loud cries and tears’ count as ‘reverent submission’? To this I suggest reading the book of Job, where the suffering man of God rails against God, takes him to court, accuses God, yet is declared to have ‘spoken rightly about me [God]’ (42:7). Reverent speech sounds irreverent when we lose connection with the biblical lament tradition, and sounds defeatist when disconnected from the hope of the resurrection.

  1. There aren’t any lament songs

There are. There just aren’t (m)any on the CCLI lists to which many churches subscribe, especially those that use ‘praise bands’ to lead in sung worship. Reclaiming lament requires re-education for all of us, especially those of us who have grown up in worship environments oriented toward the positive and uplifting. We might consider resources like THIS, THIS, or THIS, and songs like Dry Bones,  By the Waters of Babylon (or THIS version), or Leonard Berstein’s Chichester Psalms, or the songs listed HERE or HERE. There are enough to at least get started.

  1. People aren’t/wouldn’t be comfortable singing lament songs

See point #4 … and as an addendum, those going through terrible suffering are not comfortable singing only praise, and perhaps we might heed the words of Ecclesiastes:

It is better to go to a house of mourning than to go to a house of feasting, for death is the destiny of everyone; the living should take this to heart. (Eccl 7:2)

Or the words of Jesus,

Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted (Matt 5:4).

Or Paul,

            Weep with those who weep (Rom 12:15).

[1] The ‘MAAFA Service’ remembers slaves who died in the ‘Middle Passage.’

[2] J Frank Henderson, Liturgies of Lament (Chicago: Liturgy Training Publications, 1994).

[3] See Jon D. Levenson, Resurrection and the Restoration of Israel: The Ultimate Victory of the God of Life (Yale: Yale University Press, 2006). I can’t recommend this book enough!

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By Turbulent Force

A Time for Minor Chords (Part II): Protest at the Divine Court

Time to Protest?

In my previous post I discussed the continued lack of lament in contemporary worship (of the ‘worship band’ variety). My point was that there’s been very little appreciable movement toward lament in the past decades among the major producers of the songs listed on the CCLI lists and the like. Because of that, the average small seeker-type church—which tends to draw heavily from the CCLI top 100—plays 99% praise, with the occasional (awkward) cry for help. I find this astonishing, especially given the tendency for said churches to read books like The Emotionally Healthy Church/Leader/Woman/Etc (http://www.emotionallyhealthy.org/).

I don’t have enough perspective to evaluate the current level of discontent with the persistent optimism and cheerfulness of contemporary worship music. But if I were to sit down with the chief strategists for Contemporary Worship, Inc., I’d suggest that something in the order of Nirvana’s 1990 flannel and grunge revolution needs to take place in worship music, a clearing of air for the raw and abrasive songs of lament (and protest).[1]

I don’t like to idealise lament. Some studies I’ve seen urge lament on the grounds that it’s psychologically and emotionally healthy. This may be true, and it’s probably healthier than repression. But it must be admitted that time also heals wounds, if not all of them. So, not lamenting might leave lamenters and non-lamenters in an emotionally similar place, at least 10-20 years on. I don’t think selling lament (exclusively) on its personal benefits is what the church needs. The point is not self-expression or psychological benefit, as good as those might be.

Lament as Persuasion

The greatest benefit to our worshipping communities is a reclaiming of genuine relationship with God. For all our emphasis on ‘relationship’—and perhaps that word is past its sell-by date—worship often reflects a belief that ‘the chief end of man [sic]’ (glorifying God) is the ‘only end of man.’[2] Our worship often portrays a God who only permits praise, and will not allow objections. Brueggemann writes,

A community of faith which negates laments soon concludes that the hard issues of justice are improper questions to pose at the throne, because the throne seems to be only a place of praise.[3]

Treating the throne room as a place for praise alone ignores the fact that the divine palace is also a (supreme) court, a place where citizens of the kingdom press their case with confidence that the divine judge hears, listens, and responds.

 A Rich Biblical Tradition of Protest

The biblical tradition is rife with examples of God’s people pressing their case, either against God or against societal injustice. God seems to invite his people into the courtroom for that very reason, from Genesis onward.

After choosing Abraham ‘to accomplish righteousness and justice,’ God unveils his plans to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah. This provokes Abraham’s protest:

Far be it from you to do such a thing — to kill the righteous with the wicked, treating the righteous and the wicked alike! Far be it from you! Will not the Judge of all the earth do right? (Gen. 18:25)

This bold approach to the throne seems to be just what God expects—and wants. Through dialogue and debate, Abraham challenges God to ensure justice for the few potential victims of God’s judgement. Put another way, Abraham urges God to limit his severity, and he does so by protesting his actions. Though God does rain down sulphur on Sodom (and some suggest Abraham could have pushed God even further), God rescues Lot and his family and preserves another small town (19:20-21) that was otherwise due for destruction. God is still God, but Abraham’s protest effected some mercy.

Protest within the divine-human relationship is not unusual in the Old Testament. In fact, one of the purposes of prayer and yes, even worship, is to ask God to limit his severity. For reasons unavailable to us, God constructed the divine-human relationship so that our pleadings persuade God to set limits on his justified use of wrath. Put another way, God invites humans into the process of fostering and exercising divine mercy. Covenant partners are not only passive recipients of mercy, but active agents in its implementation.

The next major occasion where God’s servant protests God’s actions takes place right after the golden calf (Ex 33-34), when Israel breaks the first and second commandments and nullifies the covenant that God had just made with them. God was so angered that he proposed wiping out the nation to start anew with Moses.

But Moses intervened by appealing to God’s reputation:

Why should the Egyptians say, ‘It was with evil intent that he brought them out to kill them in the mountains …’ Turn from your fierce wrath; change your mind and do not bring disaster on your people! (Exod 32:12)

God did not reprimand Moses. Instead,

The LORD changed his mind about the disaster he planned to bring on his people (32:14).

And he did so on multiple occasions where Moses protests divine action and calls God to be just, or to turn from his wrath (e.g., Exod 33:12-16; Num 11:10-15; 12:13ff; 14:13; 16:46ff; 21:7ff).

The tradition of protest continues in the words and actions of prophets like Habakkuk (1:3-4) and Jeremiah (11:18-20; 12:1-6), the psalmist (e.g., Ps 10), and the non-Israelite Job.

In sum, in failing to lament, we fail to exercise our covenant responsibility to bring matters of justice and righteousness before the divine judge. We fail in our civic duty.

Opening the Torah Ark

Jewish novelist Chaim Potak discusses a tradition of lament during the Shabbat service:

There used to be a tradition, which may still be in existence in some Jewish communities, where if you had a complaint against God you stopped the service on Saturday. You went up to the ark, you opened the [Torah] ark, and you stood there shouting at God until the rabbi finally led you away.

Potak goes on,

You shout out of faith, not because you don’t have any faith. If you don’t have faith, you don’t have anyone to shout at.[4]

What if we saw our worship music as a means of leading people to the ark? Or the courtroom? There’s something enormously dignifying and freeing in telling people that their disputes and complaints will be heard in this court. They may feel themselves without power in the halls of human political power,[5] but not in the divine court.

Let us find the chords to bring them there, and let us enter His court with protests.

See here for Part 3.

[1] Perhaps this risks an unnecessary pendulum swing, but I’d be thrilled to have the conversation.

[2] Brueggemann, ‘The Costly Loss of Lament,’

[3] Brueggemann, ‘The Costly Loss of Lament,’ 64.

[4] ‘Giving Shape to Turmoil: A Conversation with Chaim Potok,’ Mars Hill Review (Winter/Spring 1997), http://potok.lasierra.edu/Potok.interviews.MHR.html, accessed 30/03/2017.

[5] Bruegggemann sees the two inextricably linked (‘The Costly Loss of Lament,’ 62ff).

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Brian Doerksen WTCLive

Brian Doerksen and Michael Gungor – Lament and Christian Worship

With: Brian Doerksen and Michael Gungor.

Recently, musician Michael Gungor Tweeted this: “Approximately 70% of the Psalms are laments. Approximately 0% of the top 150 CCLI songs (songs most sung in churches) are laments.” In this WTCLive event we reflect with singer songwriter and worship leader Brian Doerksen on lament and Christian worship. Why has lament fallen out of favour? What do we lose when we lose lament? We will consider these questions and yours during this live-streaming event.


Brian Doerkson

brian_doerkson_bwBrian is a songwriter, recording artist, conference speaker and pastor. His songs known around the world in churches of all kinds include ‘Come, now is the time to worship’,  ‘Hope of the nations’,  ‘Faithful One’,  ‘Refiner’s Fire’, ‘Hallelujah (Your love is amazing)’, ‘Holy God’ & ‘The river’.

He has also completed a double album recording a musical (an 8 year writing process!) with Chrispher Greco (a playwright based in Boston) based on Luke 15 called ‘Prodigal God’. The musical take of two sons and one wastefully extravagant father.’ It’s the story of the prodical son and his father seen through the eyes of the elder brother. The musical features 23 new songs written or co-written by Brian.

Brian continues to make his church home at ‘The Bridge’ in Matsqui village in Abbotsford, which he helped plant in the spring of 2006. In September, Brian will begin directing a new ‘Music & Worship Arts’ programme at Prairie College in Alberta, Canada. He has also formed a new band called ‘The SHIYR Poets’ (pronounced ‘sheer’) with whom he is creating new settings for the ancient psalms (including laments!) and songs from the Dead Sea Scrolls.

Michael Gungor

michael_gungor_bwMichael is lead singer-songwriter for the alt-folk collective Gungor. Imagine if a cello and a banjo had a baby, and then someone put a pedalboard and synthesizer in its crib. This is one way Gungor (rhymes with hunger) describes its musical sensibilities: alternative, folk, textured and experimental. The alt-folk collective- fronted by husband/wife team Michael  and Lisa- is now on a 60+ city headlining tour that travels across theaters and arenas in the US, New Zealand, Australia, Canada and Europe. Gungor’s music has received several Grammy  nominations, and their recent albums include Beautiful Things (2010), Ghosts Upon the Earth (2011), and I Am Mountain (2013).

See also this inspiring TheoMisc Blog series on Lament by Matt Lynch.

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