BJU’s annual Praise Service will be held in the Founder’s Memorial Amphitorium on Monday, Nov. 19, to prepare students’ hearts and minds for this holiday season. The service will take place during the chapel hour on the Monday before Thanksgiving break.
This year’s theme for the praise service is “Come and Worship,” a theme which will focus on the glory of God the Father, His mercy towards sinners and His grace shown through Jesus Christ.
Laura Brundage, a faculty member in the Division of Music, has been planning these praise services for the past eight years. Themes in previous years have focused on Christ as Treasure, giving thanks, praise and worship, and the five key points of the Reformation. “We’re focusing on acknowledging who God is and acknowledging our need of mercy in light of who God is and how great He is,” she said.
She chose the songs and asked instrumentalists and vocalists to help lead the student body in worshiping God together. Songs and scripture readings will comprise the entire service. This format will allow students to minister to each other.
After the opening choir number, “O Come and Worship the Lord,” all the singing and scripture reading will include the congregation. “It’s not a concert in that you sit and listen a whole lot,” she said. “My goal is for us to sing to God and to each other.”
Brundage said Dr. Warren Cook, another faculty member in the Division of Music, will conduct some of the songs. However, the university Chorale and orchestra will be leading the student body as well.
“I’ve tried to make it primarily students leading students,” Brundage said. “I think that’s important to be led by your peers and not always be looking at the faculty members to encourage you and lead.”
Kenneth Driscoll, a graduate communication studies major, will be singing with the choir. This will be his second year in a row participating in the Praise Service. Driscoll said the service is a blessing for both the people on stage and the audience members. “The amount of enthusiasm and joy that comes out of those chapel-long singspirations is really encouraging,” he said.
Driscoll likes how students get to set aside the normal routine and focus their minds on the theme of giving thanks to God for what He has done for them. “Being able to hear those thousands of voices coming up towards the stage [is] exciting as well,” Driscoll said.
Gabriella Yat, a senior voice performance major, and Ana Flynn, a piano pedagogy major, will also be participating in the service for the second year in a row. They said the service unifies the student body and helps students refocus their minds before leaving for Thanksgiving break.
Yat said she enjoys singing in the choir, and she appreciates the fact that the service is comprised entirely of music and Scripture. “It’s really cool [how] we have our own little orchestra, and we all wear our fall colors,” Yat said. She said it’s not a time where students listen to preaching. It’s a time to sing and glorify God, pointing everything back to Him.
Yat said it’s so encouraging to be on stage and hear the rest of the student body join together in song. “It’s like ‘whoa!’ this is a small part of what heaven might be like later,” she said.
Flynn said the service is a nice change of pace. “Right before break, everybody is thinking about going home, and it’s really easy to get super discontent with being at school,” she said. “When it’s a praise service, it’s a lot nicer to focus on praising God and doing that together as a student body before we all go home and have Thanksgiving.”
Dr. Ken Renfrow and Jean Cook, faculty members in the Division of Music, will play piano and keyboard while students from various choirs and orchestras sing and play instruments on stage. Brundage said the vocalists and orchestra members look forward to playing a part in the service.
“Musicians love to make music,” Brundage said. “God is creative, He’s made us creative and we love to be image bearers by creating music that’s part of showing the image of God.” Brundage is excited to give the student body this opportunity to refocus their attention on God.
“I want it to be encouraging to their hearts,” Brundage said. “I want it to push them to want to know God better, because they see who He is through song and through Scripture. That generates in us a desire to know more.” Brundage said she hopes the Praise Service inspires love and thankfulness and provides a good start to the whole holiday season. “I hope that the student body walks away with a better picture of who God is and what He has done for them through Jesus Christ,” she said.