Ars Nova and New Media Worship

“The current worship transition from old media to new media is as radical as, and in some ways similar to, the shift from “Ars Antiqua” to “Ars Nova”. From around 1300 AD, church music broke away from simple Gregorian-type chants into chords, polyphonic masses and harmonies that were not constrained by parallel movements of the foundation line (cantus firmus). Despite being condemned by Pope XXII, the new approach to music opened the door for similar movements in art and literature, setting the stage for complexity and modularity in church worship. And now through new media, complexity and modularity once again find new expression.”

Andrew Jones, from “Transcoding Worship: When the Parts Become Pixels”, Worship Leader, Jan-Feb 2007 print edition. [No web access]

Sad to announce that the Culture Watch column that I help write for Worship Leader Mag will be stopped so you wont be hearing from me anymore if you subscribe to WL. I enjoyed writing for it and always tried to look beneath the surface of what we do and find something deeper. It may have been a little too technical or philosophical for the readers who just want to know what the next cool thing is and how to implement it, but i appreciate the WL people who let me say my bit. Thanks to Jeremy Armstrong for the recent articles, and to David Di Sabatino (ex-editor of WL, producer of Frisbee) who pushed me to contribute my first article on alternative worship for WL back in 2001.

What I didn’t say in the article is that I also see a parallel between harmonic modularity in worship and structural modularity in ecclesiology. Or, in English, just as the Pope wanted the simplicity of a single musical movement and condemned unconnected harmonies and chords that threatened the cantus firmus, so there are churches that see the Sunday worship service as cantus firmus and degrade other more ‘harmonic’ church forms, especially when a combination of church life exists in structures that no longer call for a single primary event.

Just a thought . . .


Andrew Jones launched his first internet space in 1997 and has been teaching on related issues for the past 20 years. He travels all the time but lives between Wellington, San Francisco and a hobbit home in Prague.


  • chad says:

    This has been a great column, and I am sad to see it go. Thanks Andrew for all your work.

  • Shawn says:

    … unfortunate loss, IMO. I really hope that is was dropped for better reasons than the “just looking for the next cool thing” readers.

  • Duncan says:

    Sorry to hear.
    I haven’t visited here for a while. I love the look of rusting corrugated iron. Nice header.
    btw, the site of worship leader mag slightly gave me the willies – it left me wondering whom we’re being asked to worship. Or is this just sensitive inculturation in a consumer society?

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