Vespers and All That Jazz: A Unique Worship Experience

Image credit: “Woman in Temple” by Marten Jansen

By Joyce D. Sohl

“Vespers & All That Jazz” is a worship experience using words and music from a variety of sources to encounter the Sacred. We understand jazz to be a process of making music; music which shapes the service and helps us experience the interruptive Spirit of God in ourselves and others. The style is experiential. Open minds, open hearts, and open ears are essential. Justice, compassion, peace, and wonder are hoped-for responses.”

The above statement is in the bulletin of every “Vespers & All That Jazz” service, each Sunday, all year long. It indicates that this weekly service (Sunday, 6:30-7:15 PM) is shaped by music in jazz style. It is a service that is experienced by leaders, musicians and attendees in different ways. It is an informal service and reflective/contemplative in nature. Through this service God is met in unexpected ways.

The content is simple and consists of scripture, poetry, contemporary readings including news stories, prayer, silence and at least six jazz renditions of old or new hymns, pop music, traditional jazz numbers, world music, classics, etc. Each service has three musicians consisting of piano, woodwinds or brass, and bass. The music centers the service and often speaks of joy or sorrow; lament or praise; justice or fear. Each service or series of services is focused on a theme. In October and November the central theme is “Living in community.” Sunday themes include “Rules of living,” “All about money,” “ God’s upside down world,” and “Prayer.” In December the focus will be on the marginal characters of the Christmas story.

Jazz and worship are both of the moment. They cannot be repeated exactly the same an hour later. They both are flexible, creative, full of emotion, dynamic, relational, and full of mystery and awe. Come and join us in a unique contemplative worship service. See you at Vespers & All That Jazz on Sunday at 6:30 PM.

Joyce D. Sohl


 Joyce D. Sohl has been Laywoman-in-Residence since 2009 as a full-time volunteer. She retired as CEO of United Methodist Women in 2004. She is the author of 4 books, a teacher, retreat leader, writer and non-professional musician. Here at the Center her work is in the area of Spirituality & the Arts with such programs as Tuesdays in the Chapel, Vespers & All That Jazz, Poet’s Corner, and quarterly retreats and art exhibits.