Sound is a very important part of life. We hear sounds constantly whether it is traffic outside or our own anatomy inside. Sound in religious spaces is crucial for how we perceive religion. The church I visited was St. Luke’s Methodist Church. Before diving into my experience at this church, let me state my background with religion. From a young age, my family was never very strict about practicing religion, so my beliefs do not pull strongly towards any particular religion. The church I attended when I was younger is what some call a ‘super-church,’ which is an extremely large church with a whole band, several pastors, and hundreds of people. There were multiple moments throughout the service i visited where the whole church would join in singing various songs. The auditory aspect of any church is such a large portion to practicing religion that it should not be ignored by anyone.
St. Luke’s Methodist Church was a very unique service due to being very traditional, unlike others I have attended in the past. The sounds before the service was very loud due to everyone speaking and socializing before worship began; which then led me to notice how the architecture of the building aids in reverberating the sound for the congregation to hear. During the service, there was music played by a keyboard, cello, violin, and a choir thrown in the mix which, to my knowledge, helps the audience focus in on what the pastor is preaching. Hearing and singing along with the church lightens up the mood and sort of refreshes the mind to engage more in what is being spoken about. The reverb of the sounds off of the walls made for a typical church experience. After the service, many people stayed to socialize with friends and family, which reminded me of the sounds before the service. As they were leaving, people seemed more alive and awake; this could partly be due to it simply being later in the day.
One thing I noticed was how awake and focused these people seemed during the service, while the pastor was preaching. St. Luke’s had the occasional background music during the pastor’s speech, and it made me wonder if there was no musical sound at all, if it would affect anyone’s religious worship in any way? It seemed as though many people enjoyed and appreciated the music, many were more deeply involved in what the pastor was preaching, which is what some say church is all about. Could these churchgoers suffice with just the preaching alone or do they use the music as a crucial part of their worship? These are questions to ask ourselves when thinking about how sound plays a part in religious settings. For every church, religion, or place of worship, the incorporation of sound will be different.
Sound is all around us, everywhere we go. It tells so much about everything, and we can learn so much if we listen carefully to sound without bias as well as question what the sound means. The sound that I have discovered here at St. Luke’s is just the start of learning more about how this particular church incorporates sound.
By Cameron Fults
“The auditory aspect of any church is such a large portion to practicing religion that it should not be ignored by anyone.” — Cameron Fults