"That was a lot of beautiful music." Those were the words I heard myself repeating this past Sunday when folks asked me about our worship services. I felt gratitude for a number of things, but especially for our Chancel Choir. My thankfulness was not only for what they did on a "big" Sunday, like one that contains "a lot of beautiful music" - but also for the not-so-big services all through the year when they lead us in worship. For most of the year, they meet each Wednesday night and part of Sunday morning to prepare for worship. Not only do I appreciate their musical gifts, but I admire their diligent rehearsing each week. In recent years, that choir is not only a musical group, it also functions as a small group. Walking by the choir room on Wednesday evenings, I have heard laughter as they enjoyed each other's company, and seen tears as they prayed for one another in hard times.
Last Saturday I took time during the preparation for Sunday's worship to welcome our eleven guest musicians and five soloists who were hired to help our choir lead worship. Knowing that some of them may not have come from church backgrounds, I shared with everyone these words from our Presbyterian Book of Order about the place of music in worship:
The singing of psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs is a vital and ancient form of prayer. Singing engages the whole person, and helps to unite the body of Christ in common worship. The congregation itself is the church's primary choir; the purpose of rehearsed choirs and other musicians is to lead and support the congregation in the singing of prayer. Special songs, anthems, and instrumental music may also serve to interpret the Word and enhance the congregation's prayer. Furthermore, many of the elements of the service of worship may be sung. Music in worship is always to be an offering to God, not merely an artistic display, source of entertainment, or cover for silence. (W-2.0202)
I thank God for our Chancel Choir and the gift of beautiful music!