First Church of Christ, Scientist

Sharing Christian Science in Laguna Beach, CA

Whatever inspires with wisdom, Truth, or Love -- be it song, sermon, or Science -- blesses the human family with crumbs of comfort from Christ's table, feeding the hungry and giving living waters to the thirsty.

Mary Baker Eddy, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures

The Christian Science church in Laguna Beach appreciates fine music. According to church history, music — especially hymns — was an everyday occurrence in the home of Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science. In establishing her concept of church, music had to play a part. The hymns, accompanied by either organ or piano, were intended to spiritualize the thought of the congregation rather than to create a diversion from the sermon or to entertain.

The service begins with a classic religious prelude composed by beloved composers from pre-Bach to inspired contemporary musicians. A hymn introduces the subject of the Bible lesson of the week, and the congregation sings all verses.

The texts of the hymns were written by spiritual seekers from around the world, over the last two centuries. Those texts meet the members of the congregation exactly where they are in their individual spiritual journeys.

The hymns are selected by the First Reader each week from two hymnals -- the Christian Science hymnals of 1932 and 2018.  The First Reader is an elected member of the church who leads the service. Thus, it happens that every branch church has different hymns for the same lesson-sermon.

After The Lord’s Prayer, the congregation sings another hymn with organ or piano accompaniment. Church notices are then announced by the First Reader, followed by a vocal solo, usually on a text from the Bible or a poem previously printed in one of the Christian Science magazines, or adapted for the Christian Science understanding of God. There is no choir in the Christian Science church. Mary Baker Eddy felt that the congregation remained actively involved in the service by singing the hymns.

The Sermon is then presented by the two Readers, after which a collection is taken, followed by the third and final hymn. The service concludes with an organ or piano postlude.

The church uses a pipe organ (M.P. Moller Opus 9509, 1961ca.), and a Baldwin parlor grand piano (Model L, 1975). The latter is particularly useful accompaniment for solos because many of them were written for piano and voice. Musicians need not be members of the Christian Science church, but they should be excellent musicians with an open respectful thought.

Further reading

Articles about music sometimes appear in one of the Christian Science magazines published by The Christian Science Publishing Society, including The Christian Science Journal and the Christian Science Sentinel. The links shown below are just a few examples:

 

(Article contributed by Betty Everett, Music Chairperson, 2022)