Jan 302010
 

Propriety is something very important within the Jehovah’s Witness culture and worship as it should be. But, the Witnesses take it to a whole new level. Many things that are part of Christian worship in other churches are viewed by Jehovah’s Witnesses as inappropriate and are noticeably absent at the Kingdom Halls of Jehovah’s Witnesses.

Among these things that you will not see at Kingdom Halls are live musicians: no organists, no pianists and certainly no guitarists or drummers. Years ago, live pianists were at least an option. My wife used to play the piano at our Kingdom Hall and for the circuit assemblies. On a few occasions we even had a small orchestra at our circuit assembly. For congregations without a pianist, records and later cassette tapes and CD’s were available. During the late 1980s and early 1990s, there seemed to be a concerted effort by the circuit overseers to remove pianos and pianists from the Kingdom Halls and to utilize the recordings that were supplied by the Watchtower Society.

Several reasons were given for removing the pianos and pianists. First was that in some congregations the quality of the piano or that of the pianist was not up the standard that would be honoring to Jehovah. Second was that using the Society’s recordings contributed to unity within the organization. Finally, it was said that having live music might draw undue attention to the musician rather than to Jehovah. Today, all of the music for Jehovah’s Witness meetings are recordings that are supplied by the Watchtower Society. Along with the music, the content for the meetings is also supplied by headquarters as are the song numbers that are to accompany that content.

During the singing at the Kingdom Hall, you will also see no raising of hands or other expressions of worship that are seen in many churches. There are also no spontaneous expressions of agreement during the sermon, which is referred to as the “public talk” or “public discourse”. The only  “amen” you will normally hear at the Kingdom hall is at the end of the prayers that are said at the beginning and end of each meeting. Raising of hand in worship and saying “amen” during the public talk would be viewed as  inappropriate by the Witnesses.

As I see it now, what is called worship at the Kingdom Hall is very restrained, mostly devoid of emotion, and dry and dead.