Betty Carr Pulkingham Speaks and Performs at Refresh 2007
Wednesday May 23rd, 2007
Betty Carr Pulkingham Speaks at Refresh!
“Worship - the Church’s Shop Window” was the title of an informative and thought provoking talk by Betty Pulkingham. This title captures Betty’s belief that public worship is a sign of Christ’s presence, what we are about in the church, and the proclamation of the hope within us.
Betty, a supremely qualified musician, began composing new hymns and church music in the sixties, leading to a large repertoire of hymns, songs and anthems that are sung all over the world today. In her presentation, Betty illustrated the potential impact of music by sharing an anecdote about a friend who began every day by singing “This is the day the Lord has made, we will rejoice and be glad in it”. When her husband was diagnosed with early Alzheimer’s, she nevertheless decided to continue to sing this song daily - claiming that the song helped her get through those tough early days, by being able to focus on her Creator rather than on her own despair.
Betty cited Ephesians 5:19 as the focal point of her talk about music as here Paul mentions psalms, hymns and spiritual songs as part of the early church worship experience. This is still a useful summary today. She defined psalms as ‘songs of the soul’ as they reflect the many human emotions; hymns as a ‘take home’ package of our theology which people can sing or hum throughout their daily lives because their rich biblical imagery can long be remembered and thus enhance the power of “The Word”; and spiritual songs as music with a simple melody line and image that can be used effectively to emphasize or summarize a sermon theme. Betty’s recommendation to today’s church musicians is to be flexible and to experiment. She encourages church music leaders to write new tunes and rhythms for the old well-written hymns and to seek inspiration from other traditions and countries.