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Review: Lovin' on Jesus

Abingdon Press, 2017.
"There is nothing new about contemporary worship." I've heard this phrase repeatedly by worship scholars and professors, and so it follows that something with an established history deserves a written record. Thus, liturgical historians Swee Hong Lim and Lester Ruth have written Lovin' on Jesus: A Concise History of Contemporary Worship (Abingdon Press, 2017). It seems somewhat oxymoronic that there is a history of contemporary worship, yet Lim and Ruth (a dynamic duo of worship musician and worship historian) offer a well-needed filling to the history of the church's praise.

Following the lead of worship historian James White, Lim and Ruth follow the model outlined in White's celebrated A Brief History of Christian Worship, suggesting its ability to be read either supplementally or independently of this classic text. After summarizing the origins of contemporary worship which, perhaps surprisingly, date back as early as the nineteenth century, Lim and Ruth describe the space, time, music, and sacramentality of contemporary worship. It should be noted that this is a book on contemporary worship—not contemporary worship music. Indeed, while nearly every chapter discusses music (as it is a defining feature of worship, especially the contemporary style), this discussion is much broader. This book contains discussions on architecture, technology, instruments, globalization, and a host of other factors which have contributed to the growth of contemporary worship.

This is a fantastic book for anyone who is serious about understanding the development of their liturgical style. So often, it is easy to believe that worship was invented yesterday, and many church leaders are uninterested in considering where worship came from. Lovin' on Jesus is a short and readable text yet meticulously researched. This book would be useful if read by a team of church leaders, digesting and discussing each chapter individually. Lim and Ruth's insights are relatable; they provide historical backing for the actions observed and emotions experienced in our contemporary worship gatherings. For those who take seriously the nature of worship, Lovin' on Jesus is a must-read.

Buy this book

(My thanks is given to Abingdon for providing a complimentary review copy in exchange for an honest review.)

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