FACULTY OF COMMUNICATION DEPARTAMENT OF COMMUNICATION STUDIES 1.
study year Essay The importance of acoustic environment in charismatic worshipping in the Christian congregation “Prieka Vests” Master studies “Social Anthropology” Student ID nr 011272 Matiss Steinerts 2012, Riga The importance of acoustic environment in charismatic worshipping in the Christian congregation “Prieka Vests” For these people are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day [1, Acts 2:15] In this work I would like to study theories and practice regarding religious Christian ceremonies which are practiced in charismatic churches.I will be paying special attention to worship, during which the members of the congregation find themselves in a trance-like state, characterised by speaking in tongues, euphoria and sometimes even loss of consciousness and convulsions. The topic of this work is the role of music in inducing trance. The work consists of two parts.The first part is theory, where, firstly, I will be paying attention to explanation of what is a charismatic Christian congregation, their main gospel and brief description of rituals, and, secondly, the meaning of trance and its importance in religious ceremonies, and thirdly, the role of music in inducing trance and mania in religious ceremonies from the point of view of neuroscience, I will describe trance music and the nature of transcendental music in trance rituals. The second part of the work is a description of the field work, in which I will analyse the chosen method – observation and interviews.I will analyse Christian congregation „Prieka Vests” („Joyful Message”) in context of the theory described in the first part. I have to add that the educational purpose of this essay is to test the ability to apply theory to practice, not to discover some new truths about one of the topics.
This is more like an introduction to a research, not a research itself. Part I, Theory Charismatic and Pentecostal churches Todd Johanson1 says that there are three types of revival churches: Pentecostal churches, charismatic churches and neocharismatic churches [2:1].Pentecostal Christianity and charismatic Christianity are the forms of Christianity where the faithful ones receive the gifts of the Holy Spirit. The main ideas, according to Donald Dayton 2 are as follows: (1) Jesus is the saviour, (2) Jesus heals, (3) Jesus baptises with the Holy Spirit, (4) Jesus will return [3, 19-23]. The teachings of Pentecostal churches are based upon that chapter of the bible where the Holy Spirit landed upon the apostles of Jesus during the Pentecost in the form of flames and they begun talking in tongues . This is the fastest growing form or Christianity nowadays and it is spreading fast .It is estimated that the followers of those churches can soon exceed the number of followers of the Catholic Church [5:435] which can be regarded as a world-wide cultural globalisation phenomenon. If in year 1910 there were less than 1.
2 million charismatic Christian followers, then in 2011 there are 614 million of them, according to Todd Johanson [2:483]. Brief history. In the beginning, at around year 1901-1909 the American Pentecostal churches began its spreading around the globe and by the middle of 1920s there were the first Pentecostal churches in Latvia, those were located in Liepaja and Riga and headed by James Grevins .All the Pentecostal churches have the same characteristic – speaking in tongues as „the highest manifestation of God’s miracle, filled with healing and transforming powers” .
Charismatic churches, even though born back in 1920s, became truly popular after 1950, when they segregated themselves from Pentecostal churches. Since 1945, some congregation surfaced with a distinct and specific view on spirituality if compared to the original views of Pentecostal churches.Speaking in tongues, as well as separate healing rituals began taking less and less place in their religious practices. Therefore those were labelled as neocharismatic congregations [3:481]. 1 Todd M Johanson – American Catholic theologist, Dr. in international development, Assoc. Prof. of Gordon-Cornwell theological seminary 2 Donald W Dayton associate professor of historical theology at Northern Baptist Theological Seminary in Lombard, Illinois, and chair of the steering committee of the evangelical theology section of the American Academy of ReligionTrance and ecstasy.
According to Gilbert Rouget3, “trance is a state of consciousness which consists of two components – psychophysiologal and cultural. Its all-purpose use signifies of its psychosocial nature, but the different forms of manifestation – of its cultural variety, in which it has developed” [6:7]. Social anthropologists recognise two trance-like altered states of consciousness – trance, ecstasy, and inspiration.In the British encyclopaedia of medicine the following definition is used – „trance is a sleep-like state in both deep hypnosis and hysteric cases and spiritual mediums, with limited sensual and motor contact, followed by loss of memory regarding what has happened during this state” . Rouget refers to Michael Leiris 4 who uses the word „trance” with a special emphasis on dance as „a classic trance-inducing method” [8:18]. Saint Theresa of Avila 5 has described her experience of ecstasy as inability to move, which followed long meditations in silence and in isolation. Silence, isolation and motionlessness” is the prerequisite of Carmelite nuns to „be able to fully give oneself to Jesus, one’s husband” [6:6]. Those are the three prerequisites which are totally opposite to what is used by Siberian shamans and spiritual leaders of tribes in Africa in order to induce trance – there it is a loud, social and active ritual.
Rouget recommends to use the word „ecstasy” in cases when this state is achieved through silent meditation, and to use the word „trance” when the state is achieved though outer irritants.So “trance” is induced by overstimulating brain, whereas ectasy is induced with understimualtion of brain. „Inspiration” is a trance-like state during which a person remains fully conscious and with ability to control one’s body intact. It is characteristic of musicians when they perform complicated compositions which require an enormous amount of concentration. Manifestations of trance.
Signs of trance can be subdivided into symptoms which take over those who are in trance, and into behavioural patterns which are characteristic to people who are in trance.Rouget mentions the following symptoms of trance: trembling, shaking, goose-bumps, fainting, falling down, yawning, apathy, convulsions, mouth covered with foam, bulging eyes, tongue sticking out, paralysis of extremities, changes in body temperature, inability to feel pain, ticks, loud breathing, frozen sight, etc. The first impression of a person in trance is that it is impossible to get one’s attention. Also a person’s inability to remember what has happened is an occurrence which cannot be viewed as a part of one or another group.
Behavioural patterns during trance vary from culture to culture, those are not dictated by nature, but instead they are socially learned: body piercing without bleeding, seeing the danger without a change in one’s expression, touching poisonous snakes without being bitten, healing, ability to foresee future, letting the spirits take over one’s body, speaking in a language which one has never learned, fainting or even dying when overwhelmed by emotions, being enlightened by the eternity, talking to the dead, emitting of inhuman noises, singing for days without a stop, dancing even though one is crippled, etc.If a person is in trance, it can be told by the following indicators, (1) one is not in his/her normal state of mind, (2) one’s interaction with the world is disturbed, (3) one can undergo different neurophysiological disorders, (4) one’s abilities increase, (5) the increased abilities can be verified by actions which can be observed by others [6:12]. Rouget distinguishes two kinds of trance: (1) profane trance and (2) religious trance. Religious trance, according to him, can be divided into shaman and possession trance [ 6:13].Besides, there is the kind of trance which is important to Pentecostal charismatic churches; during this type of trance a person is overcome by divine prophecies or future visions, as well as is talking in foreign languages or tongues. Music and obsession.
Obsession has mostly been linked to music and dance. Trance often is viewed as a result of music and dance, therefore it is important to understand this ability of music to trigger obsession trance. It is important to separately point out what qualities does music posses.Are those processes psychical, somatic, symbolic, imagined or real? Rouget says that even within one religion or culture music can be a „necessary part of trance induction” and yet sometimes utterly unable to induce any trance [6:31]. „Most often,” says Rouget, „music is just one of many components”, and it is a part of trance induction systems. Music itself is not a system, thus 3 Gilbert Rouget – French ethno-musicologist.
Structuralist, born in 1916, Paris, France 4 Michail Leiris – French ethnographer, writer.Born in 1901, Paris , France 5 Saint Theresa of Avila – a prominentSpanish mystic Roman Catholic saint, founder of Discalded Carmelites order, born in 1515, Gotarrendura, Spain each of the elements has its own relationship with trance induction or suppression. This is the reason why this system becomes extremely volatile and is of many forms. Consecutive phases of trance are preparation, onset, climax and resolution; those might vary highly from one group to another. Trance might vary not just in its phases, but also by the way it was induced. Music of this process plays a major role in it.
The complete ritual of obsession is time planning, where music has its own place and meaning depending on the phase of the ritual [6:32]. There are very few researches regarding physiological impact of music during rituals, mostly because it might be difficult to organise a ritual within confines of a laboratory, and also trust and participation of congregation members is needed. This is the reason why most researches regarding impact of music in inducing trance come from ethnography or anthropology field researches, and those describe psychosocial impact of music on people’s minds. Music.Music is one of the unifying and environment defining factors which can serve as a trigger for a trance, but it cannot be said that music is the reason of those disturbances, as Louis Mars 6 points out in his work about Haiti voodoo religion [9:225]. After comparison of many examples from many native cultures all over the world, Rouget concludes that the effect of music’s impact depends on (1) experience of an adept – the more experienced one is, the more self-control one has and the impact of music lessens, and (2) religion practitioners’ perception intensity – the more sensitive and vulnerable one’s psyche is, the deeper will the trance be.
During rituals there are also older and more experienced cult’s members oficiants (oficiant is a term used by Rouget), who help others if they fall down or cannot cope with consequences of their trance, because they remain composed and in control of themselves during the whole ceremony. Just as there is music to induce trance, there also is music to cease trance. Music almost always is a part of trance induction process, the only exceptions are the cases of trance which is induced chemically (using plants or chemical substances) or trance which was created by a mental illness.Trance music and neuroscience.
Since all human beings have one similar trait – a body – all biological and neurological means of music perception is pretty similar for all humans. A simplified look at ecstatic trance induction is possible from this point of view, according to Eugene d’Aquili 7 and Andrew Newberg8 , following two mechanisms – „from the bottom up”, when mostly nervous system is used, or „from the top down”, when mostly brain is stimulated [10:23-27, 99-102]. Adding a stimulus (by applause, drums, rattle) or reducing (for example, when it happens lying down) the perception it is possible to experience a short, temporary, yet intensive ecstatic trance”, this is a form of the bottom up approach, according to John Pilch 9 [11:3-4]. He also mentions a research carried out in a church in New York city, where next to chorus songs also sounds of wolves’ yowling were played, and some of the singers joined into those sounds, yet were unaware of the fact of them doing so. Using this rhythmical and melodic yowling of wolves induced a brain stimuli and some individuals were unable to resist it [10:79].An approach to induce trance from the top down is used when senses are mediatory stimulated, like, lighting candles when taking a bath, dimming the lights and putting on quiet music an ambient atmosphere is created, and it stimulates nervous system and induces light trance. Description of trance music.
Music in all cultures, according to our perceptions of culture, has the following characteristics: pitch, tempo, repetition, rhythmic variations and volume and all these caharcteristics have individual stimuli over the brain functions says Sandra Trehub 10. Music, which can induce trance, can be both vocal and instrumental.Rouget uses examples from all over the world to prove that „trance can be induced by all kinds of musical instruments” [6:78], besides, usually both instruments and voice are used at the same time to induce trance.
6 Louis Mars – Haitian descent professor of psychiatry, born in 1906, Grande Riviere, Haiti 7 Eugine d’Aquili – French psychiatrist, researcher, born in 1940 8 Andrew B. Newberg – American neuroscientist, lead researcher in Thomas Jefferson University Hospital and Medical Collage, born in 1966, 9 John J. Pilch – American professor of theology 10 Sandra E. Trehub – Canadian psychiatrist, psychologist, Prof. of University of Toronto.In ancient Greece in rituals different rhythms were used as predominant methods of trance induction, yet there was not a single specific rhythm associated with obsession induction [6:80]. Alain Danielou 11 observed the following trance induction scheme in Haiti and Brazil: „Dancers begin by dancing in a simple, slow rhythm, and they completely identify themselves with it and fall into kind of a half-sleep condition.
This is interrupted by the musicians by the shock, created by many wild drum beats and the rhythm becomes more complicated, but the dancers unwittingly start dancing along the new rhythm and fall into trance.This kind of trance is characterised by pain tolerance, loss of modesty, and perception of visions” [13:92]. A similar scheme can be observed among American Indians. In all the above-mentioned examples the initial relaxation is achieved by slow and simple beginning which gradually increases and reaches climax when the rhythm is drastically changed – it either becomes more complicated or moves to crescendo or accelerando, or the opposite happens and it becomes slow.
I observed the same scheme while I visited a worship service at „Prieka Vests”, there it was repeated twice.Yet there are also ceremonies where the same rhythm is maintained during all of the ritual, like it happens at kriss dancers’ ceremony in Bali. Rhythm and tempo modulations are not the only aspect. The sound is intensified in many ways – it becomes louder, richer (other musicians join in), tempo and rhythm changes, also the placement of musicians is changed. Also a fair amount of incense is burned.
At „Prieka Vests” worship service this was the moment when the preacher or the leader of the worship service begins talking in tongues. The message of the music.The message of the ritual music is conveyed in three ways: (1) linguistic or a textual message, (2) musical or a combination of melody and rhythm, played or hummed, (3) choreographic – the message conveyed by body language. The signifying process of this process usually is a wide one – it includes body and spirit, mind and feelings, faculties of ideation and movement. All this characterises religion practitioners’ confidence and belief in God’s presence in action.
Even Plato had written about Corybantes 12 who were able to fall into trance just by hearing the melody characteristic to trance induction.The information carried by music enables a complex behaviour reflex and human mind is ready for trance just by generating the images of future events. Music players. All those who perform during the rituals can be divided into two groups: (1) „musicians” who take active part in action and (2) „music players” ( musiquant – in French) [6:102] who sometimes sing or play an instrument on occasion. All the possession cults can be characterised by two aspects – rituals for initiated ones and rituals for public.The latter pays extra attention to ceremonies and elements of trance.
Rouget declares that usually a part of those ceremonies is played by musicians or performers who have a ready-made performance. Musicians never fall into trance in order to perform well during the ceremony, and often they are not followers of the cult. As strange as it might seem, but central performers and ambience creators usually do not belong to the religious group. Yet if the musicians are adepts, they have to be very experienced ones in order to maintain full control of their bodies.From the outside it might look like they are taken over and are in trance, but in fact this state, when a person can coordinate one’s actions, yet still experiences trance-like feelings, is called inspiration and the two should not be mistaken. Other music – invocations, callings-out, prayers, clapping, playing with simple instruments is performed by the viewers [6:103].
The role of the musicians varies within each cult. Often it is an important role one plays in the cult which determinates it. Usually adepts do not participate in music creation process.Religion practitioners can be divided into oficiants or elders of the cult, and neophytes or younger members or the cult. Oficiants are more experienced and can control their trance. They sometimes also play music while in state of trance. Music and the transcendent.
Music is experienced (1) physiologically (senses) – though one hears with ears, it is not the only way we perceive music. Sound vibrations can be felt with the whole body and it amplifies the musical experience into a physical one, not just spiritual [6:119].When a person feels music’s vibrations physically, one is touched spiritually. When the vibration if perceived, a person is included in the action which is carried out by the 11 Alain Danielou – French historian, musicologist, indologist, born in 1907 12 Corybantes – armed crested dancers who worshipped the Phrygian goddess Cybele with drumming and dancing.
person who creates the vibration. It cannot be escaped in any other ways, but just by running away. Music is linked to motion in all its manifestations.Creation of music, performance and perception is linked to motion. Even interpretation of music creates motion – a dance.
Music is also experienced on a psychological level (2) when it is linked to a person’s ability to identify with the place and time where it occurs. Music identifies the environment; silence identifies emptiness and peace, sound characterises motion and action. Sound places a person in an environment. Rouget says that sound fills the time.
It is like “architecture of time”. Sound describes action which happens during some particular time.Rouget concludes that sound helps in time management – it describes the beginning and the end of a period of time; when there is an interruption in music there is also an interruption in the ritual vibration of an instrument ,when it is not followed by a sound it can signify of a process [6:123]. Part II, Field research Method. Within the research for this work I visited two worship services at „Prieka Vests” congregation, one wedding and three rock concerts.
The wedding was the only event where there was no worshipping ceramony.My work method is observation without active participation in ritual practice and interviews with members of the congregation. I obtained some important information regarding congregation leaders’ opinions from congregation’s home page www. priekavests. lv ; there can also be found videos of congregation’s worship services. Analysis of video recordings helped in worship service minutes’ comparison.
The interviews were carried out as informal conversations where I chose the topics for those conversations, but did not ask specific questions and I allowed the respondents to tell me about their congregation in their own way.It was a successful strategy since charismatic congregations are tended to attract new members and everyday preaching is a duty of each adept right after paying their dues and loving others. Internet resources are a great megaphone for conveying the opinion of congregation’s leadership, it tells about congregation history, opinions and courses of action. Risks of the research include the fact that I was unable to speak to the musicians who performed, so I was able only to observe the rituals and ceremonies, with no input from insider information.
Also the testimonies of the adepts are not scientific; those are based upon prejudices and emotions. A significant risk is the topicality of the subject for me personally, and it impeded an objective view at congregation’s relationship models. I tried to be neutral, yet I did not succeed at all times. Analysis. In this part I will pay attention to theory comparison of field observations at Christian congregation „Prieka Vests”. At first I will focus on an overall description of the congregation, and then I will briefly describe their main values and main rituals.
Special attention will be paid to musical unions which provide the worship service with acoustics. I will describe the information I obtained during the interviews regarding importance of music when conveying the message of the religion and during rituals. I will pay special attention to worship ceremonies and speaking in tongues. Congregation „Prieka Vests”. „Prieka Vests” in a non-denominational charismatic Christian congregation which bases itself upon attracting Christians of all ages and all confessions from upper middle class residents of Latvia.The church consists of several thousands of worshipers and there are 4 congregations in Latvia. The spiritual leader of the congregation is Vilnis Gleske and his wife Liga Gleske. Their two sons Valters and Davids are also involved in preaching and in active sacral activities.
The name „Prieka Vests” was first registered in 1990, but between years 1985 to 1990 the congregation functioned as the congregation of Baptists „Golgata” which separated itself from Latvian Baptist church after a conflict with the leaders of Baptist church.According to information provided by the respondents, Baptist church reprimanded the congregation of its attachment to Pentecostal church rituals practice and speaking in tongues. Basic values. „Prieka Vests” in its website tell us that they do not follow any doctrine of any denomination, but bases itself only upon the texts of the Bible. They call themselves a „free church”. This is very characteristic of charismatic churches.
As stated in congregation’s web site, „the congregation „Prieka vests” is a democratic congregation. The reason why we are a free church as opposed to congregations who are a part of a union, enomination or church is not one of theological conflicts or differences, it is utterly historical and due to swift changes in processes in society” . According to what respondents from „Prieka Vests” told, there are many visible actions and manifestations of the Holy Spirit: (1) speaking in tongues; during it the person „has to let go and submit to the Holy Spirit who lands upon the earth during the worship service”, (2) prophecies which are voiced by „those especially blessed by God” who voice it when in a trance-like state.The members of the congregation try to figure out the message of God through those prophecies. (3) Healing – the congregation believes that the leader of the worship service can perform exorcism and heal physical and mental illnesses.
The leader of the worship service can repel evil spirits who can impact one’s financial well-being or relationships, or search for a spouse. Rituals. The central rituals in the church are weekly worship services and prayer evenings. Worship services always begin and consist of at least two sessions of praise ceremonies.There are baptisms, weddings and funerals at church; those are quite like those of other churches. A special ritual is baptism in water; it is carried out in a separate room at the church with a swimming pool in it. During the ritual those who are baptised are fully submerged in the water. Musical unions at „Prieka Vests”.
The manner of musical performance of „Prieka Vests” is very wide. There are three musical unions – a chorus sings mostly traditional church music and gospel songs, a youth hip-hop and street band „klike116” is most stylistically united, and a band called „Vestnieciba” – their repertoire is very eclectic. Vestnieciba” plays jazz, rock, gospels, folk and country music, hits and other types of music which could be labeled as popular music. The meaning of the music. When I asked the respondents regarding the form of the music, they answered that music, in their opinion, is modern and addresses a wide range of young people. They are not easy at accepting music performed at other churches, it feels alien and does not address them personally, it feels „old fashioned”.
When I asked them what is more important in music, is it the melody, the spiritual message or textual message, the youth of the congregation answered that, no doubt, it is the text sung by the musicians, since the music is the same as that on the radio. The only difference is made by the sacral texts and the message it conveys. In fact, I, as a researcher, do not wish to desecrate someone’s faith, yet if I did not speak Latvian, I seriously doubt that I would be able to tell the difference between a sacral Christian rock song and secular rock music.Even the texts seem to be very much alike, except in love songs YOU is supplemented by JESUS. Environment. The church is constructed in a manner to hold complete control over environment. It has only one window which is blinded with shutter, so all acoustic and lightning environment is being generated and controlled by a sound – light engineer in control unit in the middle of the audience seats.
I presume that it is made on purpose in order to control the mood of the space, so that both bottom up and top down approaches of mind control can be assured.Setting in whole is similar of the one in rock concerts or theater, where spotlights, smoke machines and speakers are main environment making tools. Each singer or praise leader is equipped with microphone, sound quality is clearly seen to be a priority in making the environment. Praise.
I attended two worship ceremonies and three rock concerts, two of them contained praise ceremonies. Each worship ceremony contains two praise ceremonies, the first one is right after the beginning of the service, and the second one is after the main sermon.The second praise is more suggestive and trance inducing, but the function of the first one seems to be the warm-up of the congregation.
Praise is a form of worship; it includes loud verbal and bodily affirmation of one’s belief. The praise ceremony begins without a special invitation; the members of congregation already know what is going to happen. The first composition in all praise ceremonies I visited always was a rhythmic one, energetic and with melody, in the form of rock or gospel singing.
During the praise the members of the congregation are standing up and singing many songs with sacral texts.During it people lift their hands towards the sky. Music is performed by a band, the band members may vary. Usually it consists of a melodic instrument (a guitar, violin, piano), rhythmical instrument (drums, percussions), bass instrument (bass guitar) and a singer with or without background singers. The praise begins with a rhythmical and melodic song with very simple text; the audience learns it fast and sings along.
Songs are fairly lengthy. The shortest ones are 10 minutes long. The second song, as observed in the ritual, is slightly faster than the first, it leads towards the climax, yet does not reach it.
When the third song begins, there is an apparent breaking point in the growth of music. At first the song is melodic, but with a tendency to increase. This song can be the longest one, if it is not followed by the fourth song. Two of the 7 praises I attended had the third song that lasted over 30 minutes. Speaking in tongues. According to responses of the respondents, speaking in tongues is of the Holy Spirit, who inhabits the person though a special act of enlightenment, which is a deeply personal and individual act for each person, it is said to be a direct communication with God.The Spirit knows better what are each person’s needs, what hurts and what one is grateful for.
Therefore human consciousness does not need to take part in communication with God. This communication happens on a rather intimate emotional level, not in a rationally understandable form. Speaking in tongues can be practiced as a part of praise ritual, as well as it can be a separate act, and also it can happen when praying alone at home. In order to speak in tongues it is important to achieve „the sense of letting go and trust”.
Then there comes the state during which a human mind is open to a level of letting out inarticulate sounds and incomprehensible flow of words, or uncontrolled dace of motions. In conclusion I would like to sum up that “Prieka Vests” being charismatic Christian church pays great deal for environment control during their worship ceremonies. Although similar to trance it is hard for me as non professional to set the diagnose of trance to of worshipers. The most impressive parts of the ceremony being speaking in tongues during the climax of worship and healing ceremony executed by priest are those most filled with behavior similar trance.At the end I can agree that if trance can be seen as the overstimulating of brain, then clearly whole worship is filled with carefully planned actions to reach that goal or at least keep the mind busy. Picture No. 1 Screen shot of the video of Worship ceremony in “Prieka Vests” church in 03. 06.
2012 (1:14:23) Source: http://tv. priekavests. lv/videos/merktiecigas-dzives-speks-guy-peh-asv/ Bibliography  The Holy Bible, New Testament English Standard Version . Acts 2.  Barrett DB, Johnson TM. 2002. Global statistics. In The New Intemational Dictionary of Pentecostal and Charismatic Movements, ed.
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2001. Religion, the new millennium, and globalization. Soc. Relig. 62:415-41  Rouget, G, 1985.Music and Trance. A theory of the relations between Music and Posession. Chicago, London: The university of Chicago Press  Taber’s Cyclopedic Medical Dictionary 9th ed.
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1908. The Kouretes and Zeus Kourus: A Study in Prehistoric Sociology. The annual of British School at Athens  Interner resource of “Prieka Vests”: http://www. priekavests. lv/lv/par_mums/kadai_konfesijai_piederam_? read=1144 Appendices Observations during the worship service, 03. 06. 012 1) The worship service on June 3 began with a short speech by the worship service leader, he greeted the congregation, evaluated the amount of attendees (there were 400-500 people, the hall is suitable for about 1500 people) and voiced his satisfaction with the ones who had arrived.
2) After this speech the congregation members stand up and a band (consists of a singer – leader of praise, 6 background singers, percussionist and electric guitar piano player, drummer, acoustic and electric guitar player, and bass guitar player) begin performing a melodic jazz composition, congregation members sing and dance along freely.There are long choruses of „we praise you”. Two similar jazz compositions are played afterwards, the second one is more melodic, but the first one is more rhythmic and active. The third composition is a mixture of gospel and country; emotionally it makes one think of a fun open-air dance and church atmosphere at the same time. There is a phrase repeated as a mantra: „Jesus, I love you”. It is long and melodies seem to be linked into one composition as a medley. The length of three separate compositions is 32 minutes. ) A female preacher steps up; in a persistent, exaggeratedly excited voice she calls upon the congregation about God’s ability to solve different problems – financial, heath and relationships.
During the sermon congregation members sit down. As soon as Bible is mentioned during the sermon or there is an invitation to turn to a specific Bible passage, congregation members (about 85-90% of the attendees have their own Bibles, children and some very few people without any specific traits do not have their own Bibles) open the book and follow the passage.The preacher talks on verge of breaking her voice and it seems like she grows hoarse by the end of the sermon. The message of the first sermon is related to the first Sunday of the month and about importance of paying one tenth of one’s income in the life of each Christian.
She tells about her former financial troubles and how God helped her to overcome them. At the climax of the sermon she quiets her voice and in the background there is light, slow, barely noticeable piano music. The preacher begins a quiet, heart-felt prayer which is in contrast with the exaggerated yelling beforehand.In the prayer she thanks God for all the good things she and the entire congregation have, with emphasis on the financial benefits. The main topics of the sermon are: (1) love is not wrong, (2) one tenth is a form of love, (3) you must love God for God to love you, (4) God gives back tenfold. White envelopes are handed out and donation bags are passed around, coins or white envelopes with paper money are dropped in there. A melody characteristic to popular music is sung.
4) The musicians leave the hall. The preacher invites to the baptism the parents of a recently born child.The preacher begins a prayer for the child, holds one hand on the child’s head. A similar prayer and blessing happens over the parents and childs’ head is anointed with a small amount of oil.
5) Engagement of two couples. The preacher invites two couples, one after another, each one is asked if they have really decided to get married and gives them his blessing. There seems to be no ritualised actions other than putting hands on people’s heads during the prayer. One of the couples does not sit next to each other after the act of engagement.Other couple sits, but their mutual communication seems to be minimal compared to that of preacher and congregation. The members of the congregation continuously are active with their exclamations, affirmations and jubilances. 6) Everyone who is born in June is invited on stage.
About 30 people come up. Each is given an opportunity to speak – one has to say his or her name and birthday. They are allowed to bespeak, wish or tell something – some of them do it.
7) The preacher invites children to attend their Sunday school. 8) The second part begins; people participate with completely different attitude and seriousness.Everyone bows their head and pray. A girl comes up on the stage and prays in a quiet voice, she is using a microphone.
Musicians return. The prayer turns into a melodic, slow singing with a slow rhythm. After 10 minutes of singing music does not stop but the girl who was praying begins to speak in tongues, inarticulate speaking in tongues can be heard from the audience now and then. Genre of the song reminds of a post rock song with slow, growing increase towards the climax. The girl goes back to singing in Latvian. The song goes towards the climax, the text repeats, at the end there is only one word „Jesus! Jesus! Jesus! The congregation speaks in tongues actively. Overall length of the song is about 20 minutes. 9) The preacher is on stage with his hands lifted up high.
He prays for all the bad to go away. In the background there is post rock style music. The preacher talks to God. The whole hall speaks in tongues. The observer has hard time concentrating.
Going through the shorthand record after the field research I concluded this part has almost entirely disappeared from my memory and only after I read the notes I was able to reconstruct it. Music grows lower. The preacher’s voice is low and deep-chested; sometimes it gets louder and imitates crying.Stage lights flash now and then as if there was a power line failure.
10) The preacher invites the congregation to sit down. All grows quiet. On stage there is only the musician who plays the synthesizer, he plays with a single finger a slow and flowing high frequency pulsing sound. 11) People bow their heads and pray in tongues. After the preaching part the event has turned from a pop concert into a deeply religious one. It is hard to concentrate on writing down the observations.
12) A woman is called on stage- Marija. She witnesses of her experience with healing – since the worship service on last Sunday she has gotten rid of breast cancer. 3) Musicians return. The preacher prays for Marija and the congregation, he corses all cancers, cysts and tumours. He orders them to go away.
He thanks for the healed souls. The preacher invites everyone to place one’s hand on his or her heart to heal the soul. Light effects flash now and then. 14) The preacher reads a sermon about „not looking back”, as people are changed here and become different, unlike they were before. 15) The part of oblation approaches.
The preacher invites everyone to take part and go to the Holy Communion, because it is a way for people to affirm their belief in