Drama And Dance In Worship

Source: The Complete Library of Christian Worship, Robert E. Webber, General Editor

Introduction To Drama In Worship

Important in worship are not only the arts that we hear (music) and see (the visual arts), but also the arts that involve both seeing and hearing (drama and dance). These arts are complex and challenging, both to the artist and to the worshiper. They communicate messages at many levels, either by presenting an idea or image or by representing a significant event or narrative. Careful reflection and instruction is necessary to insure that artist and worshiper alike understand the appropriate role of drama and dance in worship and the unique language of each art that allows it to fill that role. The following entries present arguments for the inclusion of these arts in worship, along with guidelines for their appropriate use and examples of each that can be used and adapted in local congregations. Moments of heightened awareness, slowed or accelerated in pace and characterized by tension or pathos, are the small dramas of everyday life. Drama is part of living; it is also an inevitable part of worship. The liturgy itself has a dramatic quality, featuring dialogue between God and his people and heightening the worshipers' awareness of God's presence. In addition, drama in worship may recreate an important scriptural narrative or portray a scene from modern life that elicits or requires a scriptural response. Entries in this section give some historical background regarding the relationship of drama and worship, describe various types of drama appropriate for worship, and offer guidance for developing drama ministries in the congregation.

  1. A Brief History Of Drama In Worship
  2. The Value Of Dramatic Representation
  3. Types Of Drama For Use In Worship
  4. The Festival Music Drama
  5. Readers’ Theater In The Church
  6. Drama And Preaching
  7. Drama In The Seekers’ Service
  8. Beginning A Drama Group
  9. Involving Children In Drama For Worship

Examples Of Drama For Worship

This section presents several examples of dramatic scripts that can be used in worship. They represent different types of drama and are designed for use in a variety of services and parts of a worship service. Some of these depict a scriptural narrative; others portray a scene from modern life.

  1. Doubting Thomas: A Dramatic Script Based On A Scriptural Narrative
  2. The Unforgiving Servant: A Dramatic Sketch Based On A Parable
  3. Keeping Tabs: A Drama For Use In A Seekers’ Service
  4. I Was There: An Example Of First-person Portrayal Of Scriptural Narrative
  5. King Of Kings: A Festival Music Drama

The Dramatic Arts In Scripture Proclamation

The various literary genres found in Hebrew and Christian Scriptures suggest that God's written word was intended to be presented aloud. Each genre has its own dramatic quality. Poetry, parables, oratory, epistles, and even narrative have rhythmic, intonational, and affective qualities that set them in dramatic categories. Using the Bible exclusively as a reference book and forgetting that it is also a literature book has deprived many worshipers of the experience of hearing Scripture presented dramatically. This section presents a brief history of Scripture reading in worship, as well as suggestions for enhancing Scripture presentations in worship.

  1. A Brief History Of Scripture Reading
  2. An Appropriate Style For Scripture Proclamation
  3. Guidelines For Reading Scripture Effectively
  4. Ways Of Proclaiming Scripture Dramatically
  5. Responsive Reading Of Scripture

Examples Of Dramatic Arts In Scripture Proclamation

The following entries illustrate how Scripture passages can be proclaimed dramatically. A variety of types of readings are presented here as models to guide worship planners in individual congregations.

  1. An Example Of Readers’ Theater: Psalm 65
  2. On The Road To Emmaus: An Example Of Readers’ Theater
  3. Examples Of Responsive Reading Of Scripture

Dance, Movement, And Posture In Worship

Movement is the essence of life. From the moment of conception until the moment of death, human beings are in a constant state of movement. We breathe by moving; we grow by moving; we learn by moving; we love by moving. We move toward God on our journey of faith, slowly discovering the nature of that Spirit who moved over the face of the deep. Dance emerges from the repetitive movements and patterns of life that become stylized and are given significance. Folk dances, improvised movement, fully choreographed works, or ballroom dances are organized patterns of meaning and purpose set in specific contexts. They explore the nature of relationships: their joy, pain, tension, love. Often dance fleetingly reveals something of the mysterious power of bodies, spirits, and souls meeting in a common rhythm or caught up in a common pattern. Through dance we explore strong feelings that elude the power of words to capture. For good reason, dance has been a significant metaphor for understanding the relationship between God and humankind. Movement, dance, and posture are also fundamental elements of worship. They can be used to express the many moods of worship: joy, sorrow, reverence, submission. They can also be used to both accompany and respond to the proclamation of God's Word. This section outlines ways in which dance, posture, and movement can be intentionally employed in common worship and provides reasons for doing so.

  1. A Brief History Of Dance In Worship
  2. A Case For Dance In Worship
  3. Integrating Dance In The Liturgy
  4. Categorizing The Movements Of Worship
  5. The Posture Of Kneeling For Prayer
  6. Folk Dance In Worship
  7. Introducing Dance In The Local Church
  8. Dances For The Seasons Of The Christian Year
  9. Five Types Of Dance In Worship

Examples Of Dance In Worship

The entries in this section outline for the congregation simple movements to well-known hymns or stories. Some suggestions for forming movements and elaborating set patterns are also given.

  1. A Gift To Be Simple
  2. The Lord’s Prayer
  3. Psalm 36
  4. A Mexican Dance
  5. A Congregational Dance
  6. The Ten Lepers
  7. Movement Prayer
  8. A Dismissal Dance

Mime In Worship

Gestures heighten our interest in conversations, speeches, sermons, and the narratives of storytellers. But more significantly, gestures reveal a great deal about our experiences, thoughts, and feelings regarding the words we speak. Gestures and movements clarify our relationship to what we say. Mime takes the natural qualities of gesture a step further. By acting out narratives, mime reveals meanings or insights into relationships and feelings that can not be experienced through words alone. Whether acted in silence or with background music, mimes highlight important dimensions of their stories with exaggerated gestures and action sequences. By the end of the mime, the viewers' eyes and heart perceive what their ears have frequently ignored. As a medium of narration and proclamation, mime is no stranger to the church and its worship. In spite of abuses, mimes have acted out the Christian gospel for generations. In recent years, mime has regained a place in worship as a medium of proclamation and evangelism. The following entries describe the history of mime in the Judeo-Christian tradition and outline its specific uses and abuses in the church.

  1. Mime In The Bible
  2. Mime In The Early Church
  3. Mime In The Medieval Church
  4. Mime In The Contemporary Church
  5. Planning And Leading Mime In Worship
  6. An Example Of Mime