Occasional thoughts of an Anglican Episcopal priest

The Festal Shout – From the Daily Office – June 24, 2013

From the Psalter:

Happy are the people who know the festal shout!
they walk, O Lord, in the light of your presence.
They rejoice daily in your Name;
they are jubilant in your righteousness.

(From the Daily Office Lectionary – Psalm 89:15-16 (BCP Version) – June 24, 2013.)

Amen Corner“Festal shout” . . . the Hebrew is teruwah, a technical term for a liturgical response. (The root word is ruwa which is a verb meaning “to shout an alarm.”) It was probably something along the lines of “Hallelujah!” although it was probably not that particular Hebrew exclamation.

Episcopalians are well familiar with liturgical responses. We are almost programmed to make them. Say, “The Lord be with you,” to an Episcopalian, and it will prove very unlikely that he or she cannot help but say, “And also with you!” (Unless, of course, the person may be an old time traditional, in which case “And with thy spirit” will leap off the tongue.) However, familiar was we may be with liturgical responses, shouting them is something we simply don’t do, although in a crowded church we might be a little louder than usual.

And shouting out on our own in response to, say, a sermon? Out of the question!

Several years ago I had the privilege of preaching in a parish of the African Methodist Episcopal Church. I had gotten maybe two paragraphs into my prepared text when a member of the congregation called out, “Amen, preacher!” I must admit to being taken aback; I “stumbled” a bit, but got back on track pretty smoothly. Then it happened again! What had started as a typical Episcopal lecture-style homily turned into a dialog between the preacher and the congregation. We had fun together speaking the word of God to each other; there was joy and jubilation in that church It was great! I loved it! I’d never had a preaching experience like that before, and I’ve not had one since.

I don’t think we Episcopalians need to start shouting spontaneous responses to our sermons (although that might be fun), but I do think we need to cultivate that same sense of joy and jubilation, the vibrancy and liveliness that was evident in that AME congregation. We need to learn the “festal shout,” or at least find its spirit in our worship.

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Father Funston is the rector of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Medina, Ohio.

3 Comments

  1. Karen Gibson

    May I shout a hearty Amen!!

  2. eric

    Thank you, Karen!

  3. Dian

    The non denomination fellowships have been shouting out for hundreds of years during sermons. It is very very normal to those who are genuinely born again spiritually according to John 3:3.

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