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The 'Experience of Worship' project

Click here for main project web-site.

Funded by the UK's Religion and Society programme, The experience of worship in late medieval cathedral and parish church project has enabled the enactment of worships as we think they would have been in about 1530. Employing skilled craftsmen to reconstruct artefacts of the time (including a medieval organ) and carefully choosing chants and liturgy to reflect the date and locations, a large team of academics were able to enter into pre-Reformation worship, with fascinating results and insights. Full details, including videos of the enactments, will be posted on the project web-site shortly. My own, modest roles were two-fold: as project administrator (to ensure practical arrangements flowed smoothly) and as a medieval carpenter.

As many others involved in this unique research project have said, it has been a privilege to be actively involved in this investigation into how our forefathers of the medieval period might have worshipped.

For me, one of the most significant things to come from the project, was to hear many of the other participants comment to the effect that their worship experiences often began when they stopped trying to understand the words, stopped trying to perform for the audience or cameras and allowed themselves to fully engage. This must surely be a primary message to come from Experiential learning and form Action Research: we cannot control transcendent experiences, or indeed life! It is by  immersing ourselves in life's experiences as they happen and allowing ourselves to reflect on them and assimilate them over the months that follow, that we can become a fulfilled part of One Reality.

See here for a brief project report, as published in De Numine No 51, Summer 2011, pp20-23. (Further publications in preparation).

I am reminded of an event of 2004 in which I participated, which could also be considered an enactment. As part of the Northamptonshire's Spirit of the Valley project, I wrote, directed and performed in There Are No Rules: a story of the early Quakers. Again, participating in such an event offered far greater insight into the life of a seeker in around 1660 than any amount of reading could do. For those interested in experiencing such an enactment, please feel free to use the above script (with suitable acknowledgement, please!).

Copyright 2012 by Keith Beasley