Monday, July 08, 2013

Songs From the Living Room

Several weeks ago, television viewers across Denmark got a taste of a uniquely Danish worship sound, led in part by a popular young worship leader in Aarhus, Arvid Asmussen. Televised services from his church, Aarhus Valgmenighed, offered an interesting contrast to traditional Danish church services, as the young band led the congregation in original Danish hymns with a modern twist. A healthy mixture of families, young people, and older folks joined in song while TV2’s cameras covered the services. Some of the lyrics were based in “Den Danske Salmebog” (The Danish Psalmbook), other times original choruses were added to the mix.

Word is getting around, and so are the new, easy-to-sing hymns. Other congregations are adopting the tunes. And now ten of the most popular songs have been released on Arvid’s first CD, “Nye Salmer fra Dagligstuen” (New Psalms from the Living Room”).

Why the living room? “There’s something informal about the living room,” explains Arvid. “It’s the place where we don’t just see the backs of each other’s necks, as in a worship service. But it’s where we look each other in the eye, and where we share life with those who know us. Where we’re honest with each other. We may not be wearing our Sunday best. We’re just the way we are.”

One example of Arvid and company’s sound is posted on YouTube as a music video: “Fra Hjerteslag til Hjerteslag” (From Heartbeat to Heartbeat). Opening as a quiet hymn of dependence on the Lord (“From heartbeat to heartbeat, give us life,”) the tune graduates to an upbeat celebration among a company of young people obviously enjoying the opportunity to praise God.

Another tune on the record, “Jeg vil ikke glemme dig” (“I will not forget you”) opens with a confession that so many of our problems begin when we forget the Lord, and a heartfelt prayer of appreciation to the God who never, ever forgets us. Even if you don’t understand all the words, you may enjoy watching as the tune is recorded at FinlandStudio last February.

“It starts with a couple of songs that deal with how God actually sees us,” says Arvid about the album. “About how he sings over us, before we sing to him. That he looks upon us with a father’s eyes. There are some songs that express both our lament and our need, but which also express God’s faithfulness in the midst of it all. And the record ends with a couple of songs that give legs for faith to stand on. Songs about surrender to God. About how his will must happen in our lives, and about Jesus as the hope -- not just for us, but for the whole world.”

So fortunately it doesn’t stop there. This September, Arvid is focused on discipling and training another generation of worship leaders through the “Kantoriet” program in Aarhus, in operation since 2011. Though the program is already successful regionally, preparing nearly 30 leaders from 15 different fellowships (mainly around Aarhus), it’s recently been redesigned to expand its reach to churches and worship leaders Denmark-wide. Plans are to meet with prospective leaders and interested musicians in several weekend gatherings, then follow up with online “huddles” in a focus on local fellowships.

“I’m looking forward to this journey with praise song leaders from the entire country, and passing along everything I know about being a singer of praises,” says Arvid. “In private, in the living room, and in public.”

Will God use this movement to help fuel revival in Denmark? 

PRAY for Kantoriet, the upcoming new praise and worship training session, that God’s Spirit would breathe new life into the Danish church through the surrendered lives of young (and older) believers. 

PRAY that God would prepare more and more Danish Christians to be people of praise. 

PRAY that God would provide funding for everyone who should attend this year’s Kantoriet session, and pray that each attendee would return to their congregation energized to lead uniquely Danish praise.

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