Tag Archives: Worship

Is Congregational Singing Doomed

21 Jan

On the Porch 

Onisha Ellis

I'm a winner

It seems we have moved past the age-old church music choice controversy and are now smack dab in the middle of are we singing at all? Lately, when I attend church, I am not sure if I am supposed to be singing. The music leader invites me to stand but instead of singing, I find myself thoroughly disengaged while the Praise group does their thing. It is not their song choice that is the issue, I can go with traditional or contemporary and enjoy it best when it is mixed together. It is the way they lead and sing.

For instance, let’s say the chosen song is one I am familiar with, great! BUT the praise group has decided to change the cadence and melody. That is fine if the praise group is the only ones singing. It is not fine when the congregation is supposed to be singing too. I actually find it to be rude and excluding.

As we have modernized our sanctuaries, we rely on song lyrics displayed on large screens. Those screens do not also display the musical notes and the congregation has no idea which way the melody will go.

Painting by DiVoran Lites

Painting by DiVoran Lites

I try to sing it in the way I know and I am either too fast, slow, too high or low. Since I can’t sing, I stand silent and listen to the voices around me. I like to do this, anyway as I love the sweet sound of voices singing unto God. To my surprise, I couldn’t hear any voices. I saw a few lips moving, but for the most part, all I heard was the music leader and the band. Does he not realize people are not singing? I ask myself?

Photo via Visual hunt

Since I find this trend of singing at the congregation rather than singing with them to be distressing, I decided to do some research. I found this article The Slow Death of Congregational Singing written in 2008 by Michael Raiter. In his article he says

 “I travel around a great deal. In fact, I’m in a different church on most Sundays, and it’s true of virtually everywhere I go. I can’t remember ever coming home to my wife after church on a Sunday and saying, “Now, honey, that church really knows how to sing”.

Isn’t that sad? I grew up in a church that knew how to sing. They sang with their hearts.  Raiter goes on to say:

“I liken the ministry of song leaders to that of John the Baptist. They must decrease as the people of God increase (John 3:30). When the song begins, we may hear the voices of the leaders and the sounds of the instruments, but by the end of the song, it is the voices of the people of God that should dominate.”

 Church Leaders online magazine has an article entitled

Congregational Singing Dysfunction: 4 Ways to Fix It

The author states

 “If your church doesn’t sing it’s probably because of one of two things: either they haven’t been invited to sing or the obstacles to their singing have not been removed.”

Theologian, John Calvin says, “singing subdues the fallen heart and retrains wayward affections. St. Augustine says, “Singing is praying. When one sings one prays twice. While singing in the front of the Lord, we are in touch with the deepest center of our heart.”

I love going to a Christian music concert and being caught up in the music and worship. When I am in church, I like to be able to sing. ( I sing poorly by the way)

PRAISE OUR GOD

 

Praise for the Lord’s Goodness.

A Psalm, a Song for the Sabbath day.

Psalms 92:1-4

It is good to give thanks to the Lord
And to sing praises to Your name, O Most High;
To declare Your lovingkindness in the morning
And Your faithfulness by night,
With the ten-stringed lute and with the harp,
With resounding music upon the lyre.
For You, O Lord, have made me glad by what You have done,
I will sing for joy at the works of Your hands.

I can’t remember these words without mentally humming “Fiddler on the Roof.” We sang it this way in our small family life group, accompanied by the guitar and sometimes a tambourine!

 

I would enjoy reading your thoughts on this. Do you think congregational singing is doomed?

The Concert

6 Sep

Judy is still on break and I am sharing this one from the archives, September of 2012.  Enjoy~ Onisha

Sunday Memories

 Judy Wills

JUDY

 

I always remember there being a piano in the house.  Mother would sometimes sit down and play her favorite hymns from memory, with embellishments.  Occasionally we four would gather around the piano and sing along – Mom playing, Daddy on bass, brother on tenor, me on soprano.  Fond memories.

I started taking piano lessons the day I started first grade, and continued until I graduated from high school.  Now you might have thought that I was some kind of whiz on that instrument – and you would be dead wrong!  Talent?  Yes, I think God gave me some talent.  But not the GIFT.  I always have to have that piece of sheet music in front of my face, or I can’t play anything.

As time went on, I honed my talent, and became fairly accomplished.  My usual fare was church pianist, and occasionally the organist.

Our new Minister of Music wanted to do something new and different – so he organized six of us pianists and we began preparing for a six-piano concert!  One of the local piano stores had a room full of Clavinovas (digital/electronic pianos), and allowed us to practice at the store.

Close to time for the concert, and the pianos were moved to the church.  Up on the stage they went, and our practice time was closer to home.  We played two or three pieces all together – different parts of the song, like an orchestra.  Then we each played a duet with one of the other pianists, then a solo.  We were each to introduce ourselves to the audience and tell something about ourselves – just to get acquainted.

Friday night came – and the first concert.  The sanctuary was nearly full!  And then it became a labor of love – for the instrument and for our God who gave us all the talent to use for His Glory!  A labor of love, but such fun, as well.  My sister-in-law said, “WOW that was Great!!  What a glorious thing to hear SIX pianos played by six talented musicians all at one time!  I can sense God’s hand in this concert and in these musicians.”

I like to think that all those piano lessons have paid off.  I may not have the gift, but what talent I have, I use for God’s Glory.

Oh sing to the LORD a new song, for He has done marvelous things!

His right hand and His holy arm have worked salvation for Him.

 

Psalm 98:1

 

The Concert

30 Sep

Sunday Memories

 Judy Wills

 

I always remember there being a piano in the house.  Mother would sometimes sit down and play her favorite hymns from memory, with embellishments.  Occasionally we four would gather around the piano and sing along – Mom playing, Daddy on bass, brother on tenor, me on soprano.  Fond memories.

I started taking piano lessons the day I started first grade, and continued until I graduated from high school.  Now you might have thought that I was some kind of whiz on that instrument – and you would be dead wrong!  Talent?  Yes, I think God gave me some talent.  But not the GIFT.  I always have to have that piece of sheet music in front of my face, or I can’t play anything.

As time went on, I honed my talent, and became fairly accomplished.  My usual fare was church pianist, and occasionally the organist.

Our new Minister of Music wanted to do something new and different – so he organized six of us pianists and we began preparing for a six-piano concert!  One of the local piano stores had a room full of Clavinovas (digital/electronic pianos), and allowed us to practice at the store.

Close to time for the concert, and the pianos were moved to the church.  Up on the stage they went, and our practice time was closer to home.  We played two or three pieces all together – different parts of the song, like an orchestra.  Then we each played a duet with one of the other pianists, then a solo.  We were each to introduce ourselves to the audience and tell something about ourselves – just to get acquainted.

Friday night came – and the first concert.  The sanctuary was nearly full!  And then it became a labor of love – for the instrument and for our God who gave us all the talent to use for His Glory!  A labor of love, but such fun, as well.  My sister-in-law said, “WOW that was Great!!  What a glorious thing to hear SIX pianos played by six talented musicians all at one time!  I can sense God’s hand in this concert and in these musicians.”

I like to think that all those piano lessons have paid off.  I may not have the gift, but what talent I have, I use for God’s Glory.

Oh sing to the LORD a new song, for He has done marvelous things!

His right hand and His holy arm have worked salvation for Him.

 

Psalm 98:1

 

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