Liturgy, Music, Space: Introducing Bifrost Arts

Editor’s note: We look forward to Isaac Wardell of Bifrost Arts joining us for “Sing Them Again: An Evening of New and Old Hymns” on Tuesday, April 12, at The Gospel Coalition national conference in Chicago.

A few years ago, someone turned me onto a quirky collection of hymns by a group called Bifrost Arts. I was deeply intrigued. The arrangements were terrific, ranging from indie folk to the sounds of Appalaicha and even hints of Motown. And the collection of talent was surprising and exciting. Bifrost had collected a wide range of talented artists, including Leigh Nash, Dennison Witmer, and Rosie Thomas.

The album remains one of my favorite worship CDs, and in the ensuing months, I’ve been continually impressed with the work of Bifrost Arts. In just a few weeks, on March 29-31, they’re hosting a conference called Liturgy, Music, and Space, which is being sponsored by Covenant Theological Seminary and The Calvin Institute for Christian Worship. It will feature Bryan Chapell, Nicholas Wolterstorff, and several others. If you’re anywhere near St. Louis, it will be well worth the trip.

The creative director of Bifrost Arts is Isaac Wardell, who also serves as the director of worship at Trinity Presbyterian Church in Charlottesville, Virginia. Isaac has a deep passion for the intersection of liturgy, music, and community, and his passion is evident in the emphases of Bifrost’s work. They’re making a curriculum available to small groups and Sunday school classes entitled “Liturgy, Music, and Space.” They hope the content will provide a “coherent, biblical view of how these elements of worship are forming us.”

It’s this kind of thinking that gets me excited about worship renewal across the county. It’s surprising how much of our worship practice is rote, unreflective, and merely habitual. Bifrost Arts is part of an encouraging and growing movement that’s calling the church to re-examine our worship practices in the light of theology, church history, and spiritual formation.

For more on Wardell, check out two recent interviews with The Resurgence, where he answered the questions, “What kind of people are we forming with our worship?” and “Is the worship service more like a concern hall or a banquet hall?