Every once in a while for the past six years, the Church of the Redeemer in downtown Toronto organizes a special Sunday night services using, er, non-traditional very secular music. It’s used in the context of a standard Anglican church service, complete with a sermon, communion bread and wine. Past services have been built around music of The Who, Mumford&Sons, Prince (!), James Brown (!!!), Neil Young and even Led Zeppelin.
This Sunday’s service (January 19 at 7pm) is all about Bowie. The “hymns” will include “Loving the Alien,” “Word on a Wing,” “Starman” and “Fill Your Heart.” The encore–okay, post-service setlist–will include “Ziggy Stardust,” “Suffragette City” and “Space Oddity.” Everything will be presented with a five-piece live band.
Why do this? Mike Daley, the assistant music director at the church tells me “The idea is to place secular, familiar music within the church service setting in a way that illuminates both and opens some possibilities for looking differently at the music as it is. We never change or edit out lyrics that don’t directly suit a conventional religious worldview.”
Interestingly, Mike was part of Nine Big Dogs, an indie band from the Hamilton/Niagara region from the early 90s. You might remember their big local hit.
If you’re interested, Church of the Redeemer welcomes all this Sunday at 7pm. The address is 162 Bloor Street West.