Last night, my wife, Page and I were among the few lucky people to cram into a tiny bar, called The Record Bar and witness/participate with the band Mumford and Sons. This group of guys are in their 20's and they play loud, rambunctious bluegrass/indie folk music. All four sing in harmonies, and man let me tell you, it is all or nothing with this group. Awesome.
Most folks in the room knew the lyrics and tunes to the songs. Because of that, what ensued was a two hour dancing, stomping, clapping, group sing with the energy of a stampede.
The lead bloke (this is an English band by the way) is a fellow named Mumford. The word on the street is, his folks helped start the Vineyard Church in England. This seems to be confirmed by two good friends who are national leaders in the Vineyard (Katie Falk and Steve Jones). If that's true, then Mumford would of certainly grown up around church music and well thought out worship experiences. I am led to believe after seeing them that, M&S have blended the art of worship music in with performance music. Which is really the best combo in my opinion.
Church music is designed to consider the experience of the audience first, the worshipers. Because of this, transitions and the feeling of the music are important and considered in the building of a worship set. Performance music, because it does not often have to be sung by anyone other than those performing it has the freedom to seek higher ground in it's artistic development. In other words, it usually produces better songs.
M&S (like others who have gone before them) blends the two. Their transitions, swells, content of the lyrics and melodies all moved together to produce a well coordinated dance. Brilliant. Moving. Compelling. Inspiring.
I stayed up late thinking about how we need more worship music that blends those two categories. I became convinced that the place to start is in lyrical content centered on hope. We need more songs with themes like those found in the story of love conquering death. Songs and stories that speak of the Church bringing light into darkness. And music that is epic in patterns and progressions. For that will be needed in order to accurately reflect the largeness of those themes.
And then, hopefully more and more we will find ourselves in a small bar (or church) with a large crowd singing at the top of our lunges because we are lost in the brilliant, moving, compelling, and inspiring story of hope we are participating in.
It was a great show.