The Organ

Composing Music for Worship

Stephen Darlington and Alan Kreider
Canterbury Press
ISBN 1-85311-524-X

This is a collection of 11 essays which together aim to examine the 'challenges facing the churches in the modern age', the book aiming to provide 'a dynamic range of responses to those challenges'. The editors have assembled an impressive and wide-ranging group of contributors, including Andrew Carter, Howard Goodall and John Harper. The work is actually based on a series of lectures given at the Centre for Christianity and Culture at Regent's Park College, London.

Alan Kreider, one of the two editors of the collection, provides a valuable if at times disturbing contextual introduction to the essays. He describes a situation that many organists are well aware of: the collapse of music-making in churches and the dwindling appreciation of church music in a post-Christian period. At the same time, he draws attention to the challenges of a globalised church and the tensions of the many different needs of that world community.

This is a thought-provoking book. It asks many questions, such as the future of church music, the hymn and the backbone of sacred music-making, the church organist. It presents an optimistic set of answers, but ones that require a rethink on the part of those who lead church worship and the surrounding structures as well as the musicians who serve. I particularly enjoyed the contributions from the active composers - what challenges they face in this post-modern, multi-faith world! Highly recommended for clergy and organists/church musicians and good value for money, given the number and calibre of the contributors.

David Baker