‘Arlington Worship’ brings together young adults for praise music

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The music soared through the sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes Church in Arlington. A clear female voice sang out, and then a man's voice joined in, supporting hers. Guitars played so softly in the background that the performance seemed a cappella.

The song's lyrics told of Christ's crucifixion: "Lead me to the cross/Where Your love poured out/ Rid me of myself/I belong to You."

Instead of traditional hymns, the newly created Arlington Worship sings contemporary praise and worship music every other Tuesday night. The songs are simple and emotive. The lyrics are filled with nature imagery and the repetition of phrases. The instrumentation is less traditional than typical church music. Members strum a guitar and an electric bass; another slaps the cajon, a type of drum.

The energy of the music is dramatic - building like the top of a wave, then crashing down to calmer, more delicate sounds. "There's something about the build of the song and then the drop out in the silence," said Catherine Dworak, who leads the Arlington Worship band. "It really does have a movement (to it) that creates a space for God."

Dworak first heard praise and worship music as a freshman attending the diocesan high school youth ministry Rally. "We had adoration (and) it was really foreign to me, but to this day I remember the first song that we sung, which I think is a beautiful (sign) of what it meant to me," she said. "We sang 'Here I Am to Worship' and it was a really powerful experience. It showed me that music in the church can be alive."

Young adults at Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in Arlington have started a new praise and worship group. Read more about it in next week's edition of the Herald.Posted by Arlington Catholic Herald on Saturday, March 19, 2016

Her love of contemporary worship music led to her join a praise and worship group during her time at the University of Virginia. There she saw that music has an ability to attract those who are otherwise uncomfortable with the faith. "It can be a way to get them into the door and experience God and be challenged in a new way, so that maybe a silent Holy Hour in the future would be something they would be interested in," she said.

When she and others in the Arlington area saw there was no worship team around, they approached Brendan Gotta, young adult coordinator for the Arlington Diocese. Together they created Arlington Worship, consisting of a praise session, the sacrament of penance and a brief reflection on the Scriptures by either Gotta or Father Robert E. Avella, pastor of Our Lady of Lourdes.

"Finally, it came together," said Zach Kleinberg, a singer who helped start the core Arlington Worship band a little more than a year after he moved to the region. Years ago Kleinberg found singing to be the best way for him to connect with his faith. "With this type of music that's less structured, it allows me to give my own personal self to God," he said.

When Kleinberg was younger, praise and worship music was the only thing that kept him coming back to church, he said. "I'd be a crazy person the rest of the week and then sing at church on Sunday," he said. "As I got older I realized how important that was to keep in my life. After a crazy, hectic, stressful day, this is the best thing I could possibly do."

At the end of the night, the band and those who had gathered in the pews finished with a contemporary version of the classic hymn "Be Thou My Vision." The song served as a reminder that whether accompanied by a choir and a pianist or amped up by electric guitars and emotive vocals, the act of worship is at the heart of every type of music ministry.

"This is a way that we love to pray," Gotta said.

"Worship is the act of taking the focus off of ourselves and putting it on the person who deserves all that attention and all that focus," said Dworak. "It's a reminder of who God is and who we are called to be more like."

The next Arlington Worship will take place March29, 8 p.m., followed by a social. For the full Arlington Worship schedule, visit the young adult Facebook page here.

Di Mauro can be reached at zdimauro@catholicherald.com or on Twitter @zoeydimauro.

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2016