Joyfully, merrily, lustily?
The Psalms are filled with exhortations for us to sing: most of these references are accompanied by adverbs such as ‘joyfully’, ‘merrily’, ‘lustily’.
Singing should be a happy and joyous activity, whether in church or otherwise. Articles in the weekend supplements, television talent shows, scientific studies and social media all constantly convey the message that singing is good for us, both as individuals and as communities – so we should surely be doing all we can to encourage it in our churches.
Setting up a choir may not be easy, and to pretend otherwise would be to overlook the very real challenges that many of our smaller church communities face in providing any kind of music for their worship week by week.
For all singers, but for volunteers especially, singing has to be about enjoyment. People have to want to be in a choir, and have to enjoy it when they get there. They don’t want it to be another chore in their already full week. Think, therefore, about when the best time is for a choir to meet. How can it be a social occasion, as well as a musical gathering? Why not make coffee and cake part of your weekly rehearsal? A handful of people gathered to sing in someone’s living room with a glass of wine in hand is a much more attractive prospect than a chilly and damp chancel on a Friday night! Children like to feel ‘special’ – so for them, if being in the choir means they enjoy a snack & drink at rehearsal, get to play games with friends before or after the singing, or go on the occasional outing – so much the better. Whoever is leading needs to realise that their singers are there first and foremost for their enjoyment: nothing is more likely to put them off than an over-ambitious choir master or mistress barking at them.
Think about the core aims of any singing group. Where and when is the group going to sing, and how often? What time commitment is reasonable and sustainable? What kind of music is the group going to sing? If in church, a well-rehearsed piece once a month is surely preferable to struggling through a communion anthem. Failure to judge any of these things correctly can spell disaster from the outset. Choose the kind of music that your singers want to sing, not what you or anyone else think they should be singing. And, as with anything a worshipping church community does, the focus should be on striving for excellence. Working with children, I am constantly reminded of their thirst to be challenged and their innate desire to succeed – so don’t underestimate what they are capable of, or their appreciation of doing something well. Delivering simple music, sung well, is overwhelmingly more satisfying than the opposite, both for those performing and those listening, and builds a more solid foundation from which a choir can progress.
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All creatures great and small!
It has been our tradition in the Benefice to hold a Service on Saint Francis of Assisi Day to which pets and their “owners” are invited.More
All things bright and bootiful
More than 430 people attended a Medieval Weekend at Bressingham Church on the 5 and 6 of August.More
It’s not just for Christmas…
A famous advertising slogan is "A Dog is for Life… Not Just For Christmas” which got me thinking about how this may apply to the church.More
Mass migration avoided
Like many medieval churches, All Saints’ King’s Lynn was a cold church.More
A labour of love
St George Tombland is a 13th century grade 1 listed building and is one of eight medieval churches in the city still in regular use.More
Saving Knapton’s Angels
This Medieval church with its unique painted Flying Angels and Double Hammer Beamed Roof has been repaired to allow future generations to appreciate its craftsmanship and beauty.More
Website systems which work for multi-parish benefice
We have been using Squarespace for over four years now, moving over to the platform from WordPress.More
Top tips for excellent church websites
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Alarming our church buildings
Churches across the Diocese have been suffering from a sustained spate of lead thefts. At its height, on average three to five churches were targeted every month.More
A reflection on budgeting
Sitting quietly watching around him, the Wise Old Owl observed their faces.More