Friday, September 24, 2010

Friday Five - Singing

Today's Friday Five is all about music, singing in particular. As I have said before, I love music. Music in worship is especially important to me. But the music and the worship experience at my current church have been a big challenge for me. I am of the opinion that the planning of worship as a whole - integrating the music in with the prayers and the scriptures and the sermon and the other acts of worship - are incredibly important. Only recently have I had the opportunity (or the guts to stand up) and take on some of that responsibility. And a big part of that is because my husband has stepped into the role of music leader! The bigger challenge that I was not as prepared to face was attempting to change the attitudes of those who don't take as much pride or put as much concern into the use of music as worship rather than performance and are not interested in learning anything new or different. I'm still working on that one.

Do you like to sing or listen to others sing? In worship or on your own (or not at all?) - I absolutely love to listen to others sing in almost any setting. I do have a tendency to get a little judgmental because I feel that singing in worship is a responsibility to be taken seriously and not something to be approached with a "What the heck, why not?" attitude. So when people don't practice or take it seriously, I don't love it as much. I enjoy singing in a choir or as a part of the congregation (being the good Methodist that I am!) but solos are not my thing. That is simply not one of my gifts.

Did you grow up with music in worship or come to it later in life? Tell us about it, and how that has changed in your experience - I absolutely grew up with music in worship. I started participating in the Cherub Choir when I was three years old. I started learning the words to hymns before I could even read them, and they are some of the strongest memories I have of different worship experiences from childhood. As I have grown, my understanding of what is "acceptable" worship music has evolved. I was a young teen when my church jumped on the "contemporary worship" bandwagon and that changed a lot. Seeing the creative use of music through my experiences at Camp Sumatanga and other youth events continued to broaden my horizons and have helped me reach the point where I am today. My general attitude now is that almost anything can be appropriate for worship, as long as the context and attitude are there.

Some people find worship incomplete without music; others would just as soon not have it. Where do you fall? I'm a good little Wesleyan who believes in the importances of singing her faith. So I absolutely believe that worship is incomplete without music. I will even take it as far as to say that I think worship is incomplete without congregational participation in singing! When Jeff and I were planning our wedding, I was very clear that I wanted it to be a full worship service - including communion and two congregational hymns! I'm sure there were plenty of people who thought that an hour was too long and that didn't really like having to stand and sing, but I thought it was important and thankfully nobody complained directly to me so I've never heard about it!

Do you prefer traditional music in worship or contemporary? That can mean many different things! - I like using a combination of both. I love using traditional hymns because they are traditional. Because they tell the stories of our faith and help us to remember things in ways we probably wouldn't otherwise, and it helps us to teach those stories to the next generation. I also enjoy using older, classical pieces of music because, to me, they are familiar and comforting. I like "contemporary" Christian music (that is becoming more and more "traditional") because much of the "classic" stuff is what I grew up with as a youth and that music played an important part in my formative years. I don't keep up with the new stuff like I probably should but when I find something that speaks to me, I absolutely love it and will try to use it or share it where I can. And I think one of my favorite things to do is to use contemporary, "secular" music in worship because I love the way it catches people by surprise and then helps them to cross some of the lines that we are so prone to draw between the various parts of our lives! It helps re-frame the worship experience and carry it beyond the four walls of the sanctuary and into the world where it belongs!

What's your go-to music ... when you need solace or want to express joy? Well, when I'm feeling particularly stressed or thoughtful or need a little hug from God, Chris Rice is usually my default. "Smell the Color 9" was, is, and will forever be an important part of my music library and holds a very special place in my heart. When it comes to expressing joy, my only real constant is that I be able to sing along with it! Currently my favorite is "Blessed Be the Name" by LaRue. I hadn't really heard this one until camp this summer and I suppose because I associate that memory with so many wonderful people, experiences, and memories it is the perfect "joyful noise" for me!


  1. thanks Sandy ! loved to learn this of you -
    now wondering if you could pull out a youtube of your go-to music so we could all enjoy with you ?

  2. "Almost anything can be appropriate for worship as long as the context and attitude are there." Well-said. For me, the context part is just as important as the attitude. I like when the music is contextualized in the whole service.

  3. well said. I can tell you love music, especially liturgical.

  4. Oh yes, I too really appreciate when the service all comes together with liturgy, Scripture, sermon and music connected. Good for you for taking this on in your church! And I agree with Wendy, you said it very well.

  5. Hey, when you're the bride, you get to choose! We had an organist who (it seemed) every time a hymn was announced for rehearsal, would exclaim, "We sang this at my wedding!" (She was a church musician marrying a priest so it fit right in.)

  6. Why have I never heard "Smell the Color 9"??--and now I'm going to go find it!