Music/singing is a unique and fundamental part of corporate worship. Unique in its distinction as the mutual and participatory act of worship. Set apart from the reading of the Bible, praying, and the preaching of God’s Word by its unifying nature, where the entire church joins together with one voice to sing praises to God.
Music is also an important part of Scottish cultural identity. When you visit Scotland, it’s never long before you hear the world-famous bagpipes in our city centres, the sound of buskers on the streets and live music—both traditional and contemporary—in many of our pubs and clubs. The Edinburgh Festival and Celtic Connections in Glasgow make Scotland renowned around the world as a respected music hub.
In our schemes, music is also an important part of life. Most local pubs run weekly open mic nights or jam sessions. Many working musicians and artists who struggle to afford housing in more affluent areas, given the nature of their trade, populate our schemes. In the music industry, only a few ‘make it’. Most don’t. Because of this, our schemes are often teeming with creative talent and musicality. People with something to say but little or no means or opportunity to say it.
At 20schemes, we are desperate to see people saved from their sins and put their faith in Jesus. When this happens, rescued sinners suddenly have the biggest and most exciting story they’ve ever had to share. They start coming to their local church, they give their stories (testimonies) once at their baptism, learn the repertoire of hymns and songs written either hundreds of years ago or more recently by professional American ‘worship’ leaders. They then keep their mouths shut, keep their stories to themselves, and just get on with ‘the Christian life’.
Ok, so what are you going to do about it?
We have been created in the image of the Creator. We are a local church full of creators. The plan therefore is:
- To begin by creating an album of original and authentic songs and hymns written by believers from our own local communities.
- Ensure the content is carefully planned and executed so that local stories are suitably expressed within a biblical and helpful framework.
- Produce a high-quality product utilising, where possible, resources in our existing pool of members/believers throughout all our 20schemes plants.
- Promote the concept of encouraging believers locally who are songwriters and musicians to use their God-given abilities within the context of their own local churches and deliberately not seek to create artists beyond their local church *
- Provide a platform for all local believers in our schemes to write about their faith, express their joy and struggles creatively, and learn or develop how to respond to Psalm 42:10 rather than just read about it in the Bible.
We want to continue teaching new believers existing hymns and songs and welcome them into what we already do. To use the established and well-written biblical hymns and songs by all the usual household names, both current and from the past, whilst additionally creating an environment where local churches also sing their own distinct repertoires for the deepening of relationships and encouraging of one another.
(*) We’re not creating new artists—this is a local church model. Local churches singing their own songs, testimonies, prayers, and experiences within a sound biblical framework and true doctrinal understanding that is ultimately for and accountable to God, his Word, and therefore his church. We’re also not looking to do anything new. This isn’t about being innovators; we aren’t looking to reinvent the wheel. This is about enabling more stories of God’s work to be expressed and heard.
“Sing to him a new song; play skilfully, and shout for joy.” (Psalm 33:3)
“Sing to the Lord a new song, for he has done marvellous things; his right hand and his holy arm have worked salvation for him.” (Psalm 98:1)
“I will sing a new song to you, my God; on the ten-stringed lyre I will make music to you” (Psalm 144:9)
“Praise the Lord. Sing to the Lord a new song, his praise in the assembly of his faithful people.” (Psalm 149:1)
“Sing to the Lord a new song, his praise from the ends of the earth, you who go down to the sea, and all that is in it, you islands, and all who live in them.” (Isaiah 42:10)
“Therefore I will praise you among the Gentiles; I will sing the praises of your name.” (Romans 15:9)
Sounds wonderful, what did you say your name was again?
My name is Sol Fenne. I am a musician, who has been saved from all my sin by Jesus Christ. Along with my wife Carlie, and our children Hamish and Betsie, I live in Gracemount. We have been members at Niddrie Community Church since 2008 and we are now part of the team planting Gracemount Community Church.
I am a composer who has had pieces performed at the Royal Albert Hall in London as well as on BBC Radio 2 and BBC television. I am also a former professional orchestral percussionist and a drummer who has played in different local bands and ensembles for the past 20 years.
I am a nobody in the music industry, but I have been given a gift in music by God and a passion for it. There are so many people out there like me. My role in all of this will be:
- To co-ordinate and oversee the project identifying and utilising the skills and talents of others
- To seek out individuals and their stories, working with them and other songwriters and lyricists within our churches.
- Encourage believers to ‘give it a go’ and then develop what they produce into songs
There is so much talent and ability at 20schemes, and it is my belief that our churches are full of potential hymn writers, songwriters, and creative artists who have no opportunity to be heard. I’m very excited to try to change that. There is already a core number of musicians and song writers in our plants who will form the basis of the project.
In the meantime, I am already planning several music-based blogs for the next few months where I will discuss ‘the biblical case for song writing’ and ‘the music culture of Scotland’s working class’.
So, watch this space.