Worship is What Grounds Us
I recently read a wonderful article in the Royal School of Church Music quarterly magazine entitled “Singing with one Voice - The Choir as Embodied Theology.” In it, author Victoria Johnson says, “Singing is very much at the heart of a living faith and presents an opportunity for participation in Christian community through the imagination (when listening), or through the voice and body (when singing), and is therefore central to the worship experience. In the context of worship, song can literally unify the people of God, helping them become the body of Christ and the community of the resurrection.”
I couldn’t agree more. Planning music for worship is one of my favorite parts of this job. Believe it or not, it doesn’t involve picking my favorite hymns and music. I start by taking a considerable amount of time reading through the appointed scriptures for a service, thinking about the themes and ideas in them, and then looking for hymns and anthems that illustrate these themes. I think about texts in the music, the mood that the music conveys, how long it will take the choir to learn an anthem, all while trying to vary styles from week to week so that we have some variety. On a good Sunday, I hope that the music reflects what we hear as the lectors read, what we pray in our prayers, and what is proclaimed from the pulpit. If the music moves you, makes you think, or pops into your head after you leave worship, I have achieved my goal.
Sunday mornings are really the focus of what we do here at Epiphany. They are certainly not all that we do, but worship is what grounds us, inspires us, and makes us want to go out the doors and into the world to make a difference. Worship is where we learn about our faith and are challenged to be more Christ like in our daily lives. It is where we all gather as a family. For this reason, I purposely focus most of our resources on Sunday mornings.
Epiphany also has a wonderful tradition of sung services like Evensong and Lessons and Carols. I love these services as I believe music has a unique way of letting us experience the Holy. Sung services allow us to worship and be inspired in new ways. You may have noticed that we have not been having Evensong services monthly as has been the tradition in the past few years. I want you to know that this a conscious decision on my part. Rest assured, Evensong will not be going away! It will however be occurring a little less frequently as it demands a great deal of the choir’s rehearsal time. I want to be sure that we have time to make Sunday mornings the best that they can be. In light of that, we will be having three Evensong services during this half of the program year. Please plan to join us at 5:00pm on February 11th, April 29th, and June 3rd for this uniquely Anglican form of worship.
If you are inspired to be a leader in worship by singing in the choir for Sunday mornings, Evensong services or both, please know that you are very welcome. If you can’t make a regular commitment, think about joining us for Lent through Easter Sunday, or plan to join us for a few weeks of rehearsals before an Evensong service. I can promise a welcoming community, wonderful music, and even an example of how we are supposed to live in Christian community. As Ms Johnson says in her article, “To successfully sing together as one requires each individual to be aware of their own voice and the voices of others around them. A truly beautiful voice sings not of itself but lifts the ear to God. There is a need for attentive listening and even a willingness sometimes to sacrifice individual virtuosity for the benefit of the whole. This is true in choir and Christian community.”