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!