The Art of Worship: Recognizing the Character of God in Human Expression




Smith, Whitney

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Worship is a human response to God’s revelation of Himself. God’s character is not relegated solely to that which is deemed holy and perfect. Rather, God is pleased to reveal Himself even amidst this broken world, and especially in human expression- both sacred and secular. In his Cultural Liturgies trilogy, James K. A. Smith posits an outline of desire-forming practices and habits that guide our worship. Using this structure, and drawing on works by Jean Calvin and Augustine, I analyze communal practices that influence the personal habits of three artists as seen in their work. Georges Herbert’s "The Temple," a collection of devotional poetry, reflects the practice of prayer. Georges Rouault’s copper plate print collection "Miserere et Guerre" was shaped by the story-sermons of contemporary Leon Bloy. Hozier’s secular music album "Wasteland Baby!" mirrors the sent witness of Blues music. Within the work of Herbert, Rouault, and Hozier we can see what the artists’ hearts were aimed at. Following these trajectories, we discover glimpses of a God in whom we find rest, who suffers alongside the poor, and who loves a broken world. Through this project I demonstrate that human expression is an appropriate place to recognize the character of God and thus, to be invited to worship.



Theology and the arts., Liturgy., Spiritual revelation., Worship., Art.