Fill the house with singing and your hearts with praise! Psalm 147

 

I am finishing up some score selection for my choir today. I am constantly struck by how the Holy Spirit moves to help me find exactly what the Lord needs in worship for each week. I don’t say this without knowing that there will be work, and sweat, but hopefully no blood, involved in getting these pieces up and ready.

Church choirs go through so much repertoire. I recently counted (because I needed to make some selections). My choir will sing over 40 unique pieces of literature between September and May. Some of this is the weekly worship need, some for festivals, and some for special events and services. But I need to find what music will call to the moment. I am grateful for years of experience, colleagues and friends I can ask for ideas, and a great supportive congregation who loves music.

 

With these blessings I shouldn’t really pull my hair out (or more honestly, get a bunch of gray) over repertoire planning. But by the end of July every year my internal alarm starts ringing strong…

 

“Remember all those great ideas you had, months ago, about getting ahead, about selecting great music by July 1?!? It didn’t happen, AGAIN!”

 

In reality, the big pieces – the challenging music, that has been in my ears, on my brain, and in my heart for months. This year it includes Benjamin Britten’s Ceremony of Carols with harp! But also the usual great arrangements by John Purifoy and Jean Berger, John Ferguson and John the Revelator (not actually arranged by John the Revelator! That’s a Caldwell and Ivory arrangement, I think.)

 

But no matter what, I am pushed to find great things not just ‘cause I need to challenge myself, though that’s a good reason. Not just ‘cause my choir is bored with our usual selection, really they’re not. Not just ‘cause the Pastor wants an “upbeat” anthem, a term I loathe (plus my Pastor doesn’t use that language). But because this is music for worship. Its place is to support the praise and thanksgiving of a loving and caring God, who, through us, works with those who are in need, those who hunger, those who are heavy laden down with burdens and hurt, and hopes, and fears.

 

We are coming before the creator of the universe to “Speak, O Lord” through us. We are to speak so that “truth prevail[s] over unbelief.” As you embark on the journey of repertoire selection, as you begin to engage with your singers, and your church lifts up its song in praise, take the time to choose the best, most meaningful pieces. It is what you are called to do in the church and in the world.

 

“Speak, O Lord” Keith Getty and Stuart Townsend, arranged by John Ferguson, MorningStar Music Publishers, 2005 and 2007.

 

Music in Worship – R & R Blog post – NCDA – September 2018

Jason M. Horner, M. Mus.; MSM, B.A. Mus.Ed.

Director of Music Ministries, St. Thomas Lutheran Church, Omaha, NE

Artistic Director, Lincoln Choral Artists, Lincoln, NE

 

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