Art in Christian worship: a critical study of its uses and limitations
Kay, J. Alan
We have seen that art in some form is, a necessity in Christian corporate worship. If it is bad or unsuitable art it may do great harm, but if it is good and suitable it is of value at every point.It can bring things home to the worshippers so that they not only think them but feel them. It has a natural tendency to convey a feeling of contact with the Absolute, 'Sternal, Powerful, and Infinite, recognised at the name time as /•pod and acceptable; but it is obedient to embody any intuition that is real to its maker, and thus it can communicate a sense of the reality of things both temporal and eternal, a direct awareness of as much of the nature of God as the human mind can receive, an immediate sense of his presence, and an assurance of his forgiveness and love.It is a means of comtnunieating; and expressing right attitudes of mind. It conveystin particular, interest, sensitiveness, respect, sincerity, detachment from self, a sense of proportion, and acceptance. ?3ven apart from any specific religious content, it moves towards the expression of reverence, and when it is given a religious content it can convey and express any attitude that worship requires.If a man's natui'e is dead and dull, it can communicate that movement of emotion which makes him live. If his excitement"demands expression it can serve as its outlet, and at the same time discipline and order it so that it does not get out of control. It can still the mind that is restless and unquiet and bring it to tranquillity, and can communicate and express the joy that is the atmosphere of Christian worship.It can become the medium through which the mind of (tod is revealed and taught to man, not only giving instruction, but bringing it home to the mind and making it acceptable.By conveying to men right attitudes of mind it can put them into such a position that they can will and do. It can.make good things desirable, men's needs vivid, and God's succour indisputably evident. It has a natural affinity with that faith by which men co-operate with God, and % if the artist desires to express such faith he finds in art a willing instrument to ombody it and communicate it to others. The enjoyment of it is contemplative and not active; but it can turn men from contemplation to action, and can be itself tho instrument by which they unite themselves with God in will and co-operate with his purposes in prayer. The use of it is, indeed, actually itself a real way of co-operation with God, though it is very limited one.By its means.a sense of corporatenogs can be given to the members of a congregation, so that they become conscious not only of their fellow¬ ship with one another, but of their fellowship'with the Church throughout the world, and with all the company of heaven.. And not only can it meet the needs of the Church as a whole, but it can at, the same time express the mind of each several person, and bring home]God'n gift to each individual.It is not by itself specifically Christian, but it can readily be / made so. Christ himself -used those kinds of art that were open to him; and when we examine those things that have been designed by men for the purposes of worship, we find that the most spiritually fruitful of them are all works of art.Art is, in fact, an instrument by which, for those who use it aright, #11 the activities of worship may take place; by which men may unite themselves with God and one another, and by which he condescends to unite himself with them.