Shouting Liturgy

Calling out with Passion. – About this Collection.

Having been politically active over the years, one of the things that I notice is that on the many street demonstrations that I have attended, the British have no difficulty in shouting in public.

One of my colleagues on a neighbouring estate says the group outside a pub called ‘The Crow’ shout, periodically, to the group outside the Chip shop which is about a 100 yards along the road. A car will draw up opposite the pub. The people there will shout across to the car. The car moves along to opposite the chip shop. The people in the car will shout across to them. A set of loud, short, staccato phrases take place.

At the Rugby ground, or the football pitch, shouting is taken for granted.  Yet put the same people in worship, whether in church or otherwise, they have great difficulty in managing to shout at all. Some barely raise a whisper. In the Anglican situation, which I know best, even the natural opportunities like the acclamations in the Thanksgiving prayer, where shouting out, ‘Christ has died. Christ is risen, Christ will come again.’ would seem the obvious thing to do, shouting is avoided. We even find them sung gently to a four-part, and sometimes more, harmonies.

I don’t have a great mission to get people to shout on any and every occasion, except at those times we would expect our passions to be aroused. Holy Week moves us to silence, to tears, and also to anger. It evokes a whole complex of emotions.

I do think shouting is a culturally natural expression, and one particularly natural to the British white working class culture where I work. Yet we seldom express worship in this medium at all. Such is the resistance to shouting, sometimes the best I have managed to do is encourage people to Call Out.

The title of this collection of liturgical pieces for Lent, Holy week and Easter is therefore called, Calling out with Passion. It is inspired, but not dependent on the Lent, Holy week and Easter; Services and Prayers SPCK. 1984,1986.

Ash Wednesday

I have spent many yearspondering on the merits of having ashes put on you and being invited to put them on yourself. My Anglican heritage has been to have them imposed, but one biblical image is people showing their penitence by doing it to themselves. So I was interested in the possibility of either of these happening, rather than one or another.

The following can be put within a larger order of service or it can stand on its own as a short doing act of penitence. I use it as a ministry of penitence acting as a ministry of the word and followed by the sacrament of Holy Communion.

It needs one half of the people call out words in the ordinary print. The other half calls out words in the italic print. And everyone calls outthe words in the bold print.

click here for:    ash weds 2col

Palm Sunday Procession

My experience of Palm Sunday has varied. It has been a rather limp procession which constitutes singing Ride on ride on in majesty, often sung half heartedly due to the lack of accompaniment, and the people processing resembling the retreat from Moscow in the film War and Peace.

It has been much improved by stopping at stations and featuring some responsorial prayers.

Here I have wanted more engagement by giving people one or more words or phrases to call out.

This is intended for a short procession around the outside of the church building as a preliminary to the main Sunday Service, maybe after the blessing of palms or palm crosses. However it may be suitable in other contexts too.

We stop at points in the procession for responsorial story and prayer. After each prayer we sing one verse of a hymn as we process to the next stop. (Possibly – Make way Make way.) We carry on like this until we return when we sing some of the the hymn again as we go back to our seats. Again half the congregation say ordinary type, half italic type, all the bold type.

Click here for:   palm sunday procession

Good Friday

These reflections come from the need to be able to worship at some volume. Each year our ecumenical group of churches would insist on what some would call a Good Friday procession of witness, and others, a devotional journey including some of the stations of the cross. We would stop for prayer, sing a hymn and listen to the bible extract. Except, if the reader was quiet, or the reading long, or a number 77 bus chose to pass, the rest of us would be unable to hear what was being read.

I colluded with this state of affairs for years before I felt enough was enough. What was needed was something that could be ‘Called out’ at volume if not shouted.

The following reflections are designed for each person to call out a word or a phrase with a little pause between each one. If there are less than 20 people they may need to call out more than one word or phrase. It is very important that there is a two beat pause between each person calling out their word or phrase.

I have discovered that this has a number of advantages, one being the sense of many more being involved. Of course those who cannot read, either because of poor sight or literacy difficulties, still cannot just take part. But it is easier to remember a word or a phrase than a whole passage. They may also need a cue for their word or phrase and may need to be asked how this might be best given.

These reflections can be placed between other liturgical items and used indoors despite the fact they were designed to cope with an outdoor problem.

click here for:   stations

Going to the Easter Garden

When I look at the Easter Sunday congregation there are a few people there who renewed their baptism vows the night before. Maybe half the congregation were there on Good Friday too. But a significant number were not around public worship since, or even before, Palm Sunday. A week ago they heard the passion reading and then on Easter day they are expected to shout ‘Christ is risen!’ with little immediate sense of what he has risen from. What I propose is a liturgical recapitulation, involving the Easter Garden, which is closely aligned to the Johannine gospel to help people remember that Jesus rose, but that he rose from the dead..

One half of the people call out words that follow in the ordinary print.

The other half calls out words in the italic print.

And everyone calls outthe words in the bold print.

They do this as the ministers go to the Easter Garden after which one of the ministers may say words of blessing at the Garden.

click here for:   easter intro

Advent candles and Christmas.

After the success of the shouts for Lent and Easter is was natural to produce something to accompany the lighting of advent candles at the beginning of the Sunday service.

click here for :   advent 1

click here for :   advent 2

click here for :   advent 3

click here for :   Advent 4

click here for :   Christmas Day – blessing the crib


Because of my long association with the community of the Glorious Ascension, I was aware that they had an Ascension canticle that I sought permission to adapt as an Ascension Shout. They kindly permitted me to do this.

Click here for:    shout of the ascension 2

Eucharistic Prayer. (Thanksgiving Prayer)

Whilst many of the new and old Eucharistic prayers have merits, no single prayer consistently draws on metaphors that resonate with the working class ‘symbolic network’. What is more important is that none of them that avoid metaphors alien to their symbolic network or sign system. It is not suggested that the metaphors have to collude with working class culture, only that they need to be speak to it and don’t just become words that pass by. Metaphors that speak in this culture include physicality, body, gender differentiation, childhood, home, safety, protection, suffering, poverty, family, relatives, work, doing not thinking, labour.

In the eucharistic prayer here can be identified some metaphors believed to be current and appropriate to white working class culture and the concrete imagery of this ‘symbolic network’ is exploited.

(For further discussion about working class culture’s symbolic network see Mind, Body and Estates on the theoretical considerations page.)

Click here for:    Thanksgiving prayer











© Joe Hasler 2008.

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