Thanks for joining me!
I am looking forward to sharing my thoughts, experiences and videos of my work regarding decisions and inspirations for weekly church services. Though most of the musings will be directed to higher liturgy accompanied by an historic pipe organ, the principles should be applicable to to all church musicians.
- My starting place is scripture. It is God’s voice and He speaks to us through it each week in the richest way. There is always a challenge because we are all prone to wander. There is always hope for everyone who listens; Christ has done it all. This is the gospel we celebrate.
- How does a church musician help the congregation to respond to this? Carefully, honestly, and prayerfully. The communal songs reflect God’s challenge and the congregation’s heart-filled response; so does the all the other music in the service.
- The people and instruments in our local congregations are God’s gift to us. Church musicians use all their training and skills to present their congregation’s best each week. This is an awesome task!
As for the specifics of picking music for each part of the service, I use the following guidelines:
- The Prelude does not necessarily need to be chorale based but it does need to be related to the service either through musical motif (chorale, ostinato, etc.), mood (joyful, lovely, reflective) or intent. Even though people are getting settled and greeting each other during this time and it seems that no one is listening, I am convinced they still can pick up and prepare for the message through what I play as a prelude.
- The opening hymn is meant to set the tone and introduce the scriptural theme for the service. Generally, it is a song of praise and welcome.
- The hymn of the day follows the readings and the sermon. I believe that this hymn must be a communal response to God’s word as heard in the scripture and homily.
- The choir selection needs to follow the same guidelines as the hymn of the day, except that this selection can be pulled from many sources (not just chorales and spiritual songs).
- The communion hymns (or offertory and communion hymns) take the spiritual theme and apply it to each individual. These are more reflective hymns or they can be strong hymns to follow the call. In either case, they are an application of the gospel message.
- The closing hymn is a sending for the congregation back into the world and this song usually has a recap of the service as well as a call to service.
- The postlude reinforces the call to service and follows the same guidelines as the prelude.
I hope this will be helpful to congregants, musicians, and organists of all denominations.