Radiohead at Church?

by Dylan on February 8, 2004

The Times has a very interesting article about a Reverend who uses the lyrics and music of Radiohead during his sermons.
An excerpt-

Teenagers and young adults sat on chairs around tables, sipping mineral water and eating jellied sweets, while the church?s worship band played Radiohead hits. There was no liturgy as such but I still felt the urge to confess to never knowingly having listened to a Radiohead song before. The first impression was of a nihilistic, tribal band with subtle undertones of Celtic mysticism. Having been warned by well-meaning friends to expect an Alpha-style assault on my innate Anglo-Catholicism, I was initially surprised to find that there was not much Christianity to be discerned in Radiohead. The second was to hear the evangelical vicar in his sermon ulogising them as biblical prophets for today. ?In the neon sign scrolling up and down I am born again,? we heard. ?In an interstellar burst I am back to save the Universe.?

The Rev Stephen Hance, who arrived at Ascension in 1999 when it was already a gently growing evangelical community, was so impressed with his first Radiohead single that he gave it away to a charity shop. His predecessor was Canon Andrew White, an equally impressive clergyman who is now at Coventry Cathedral and is active in the ministry of reconciliation in the Middle East.

Mr Hance introduced the Radiohead service after he found himself wondering why songs that ?are more likely to have listeners reaching for the Prozac rather than dancing round their handbags? have captured the contemporary mood so effectively. That week the band had received the most nominations for the forthcoming NME awards.

The text of the sermon was: ?Why do we love misery and pain?? The band, being covered here so effectively by the church?s own musicians, led by guitarist Sam Hargreaves, were prophets for today, he argued. Prophets receive messages from God, communicate them to the people. They are ?seers?; they see the future. They are often apocalyptic, envisioning doom. They are social critics, advocating reform. ?Great bands are artists , not politicians,? he said. ?They write songs, not manifestos.?

In keeping with the prophetic tradition, Radiohead wrote impressionistic songs of alienation and powerlessness. ?So are they prophets? It is pretty obvious that they do not see themselves as messengers for God but there are echoes of some of the Old Testament prophets in their work. There is criticism of the rich and powerful, lamentation about injustices in society and pleading for social change.?

You can view the rest at The Times Online (registration required).
(Thanks to Nick.)



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