Worship Aids refers, among non-liturgical churches, to written or sung texts utilized for different worship activities, e.g., calls-to-worship, invocations, offertory prayers, benedictions, hymns. Broadly speaking, worship aids may also include symbolic movements (dance) and environmental designs.
Among Mennonites in the 1980s emphasis is placed on creativity and variety in the worship materials. The expression of local and current needs in contemporary language is considered essential in composing or selecting texts. As a result of these tendencies, classical prayer texts, litanies, confessions, benedictions, and some hymns are seldom used. The repetition of texts is not valued. Worship planners need a vast reservoir of materials available for various types of worship services. However, among other Anabaptist-related groups the texts for worship are more defined. Generally in groups where oral tradition is active and printed worship materials are used minimally, worship texts are only slightly varied and tend toward formulaic structure (Amish, Old Order Mennonites, Hutterites, Old Colony Mennonites, etc.).
Worship aids may he structured and performed in a variety of ways. Texts may he sung in unison or sung antiphonally between choir (or solo singer) and congregation. Texts may he read or sung by a single person. Some texts require congregational interaction and are structured to he performed antiphonally, responsively or chorically. Movements or dances may he done by an individual or a group while simple gestures or postures may he carried out by the entire congregation.
Worship aids must be selected carefully. The following evaluations must he made in writing for selecting materials for congregational worship. (1) Does the text witness to or support the biblical or theological traditions of Christianity and Anabaptism ? (2) Does the text contribute to the flow of the worship activity? (3) Does the text say and do what is necessary for the specific worship activity for which it is chosen, e.g., is a call-to-worship text addressed to the congregation or is it actually an opening prayer directed to God? (4) Does the text have literary and linguistic integrity? (5) What is the intention of the text? (6) How does the text provide for a response from or by the congregation?
The primary sources for worship aids are: denominational hymnals (for hymns and printed congregational texts); canticles, psalms, and hymns from the Bible, items written by worship leaders; bulletin covers produced by denominational national publishing houses; the pamphlets in the "Worship Series" published jointly by the Mennonite Church and the General Conference Mennonite publishing houses (18 pamphlets as of 1986); denominational ministers' manuals; lectionaries compiled by non-Mennonite denominations; worship books from other traditions (e.g., Roman Catholic Missals, Lutheran book of worship, Episcopal and Anglican Book of common prayer, Presbyterian Worship book, the translation of the Taizé liturgy, Common praise, etc.); other denominational music collections and hymnals; supplemental books of worship materials published by other religious publishing houses (e. g., Ventures in worship, lectionary supplements, Oxford book of prayer, etc.); and materials from nonreligious literature, music and dance.
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MLA style: Slough, Rebecca. "Worship Aids." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1989. Web. 22 May 2013. http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/W71ME.htm.
APA style: Slough, Rebecca. (1989). Worship Aids. Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 22 May 2013, from http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/W71ME.htm.