Wednesday, September 13, 2017

The Role of the ? Part II

“What do you call the person who sings at the microphone in the front of the church?”

Note:  For the past several weeks I’ve moved away from speaking about a particular days’ liturgy (i.e. The 24th Sunday of ordinary time) to speaking about liturgy in general. 

In an article titled: “Two Recent Experiences Away From My Home Church”; I compared visits to two churches from the perspective of congregational singing.  One church simply listened to the organist/pianist who was also the singer.  The other sang extremely well with nothing more than someone playing the organ.  These stories led me to my main purpose: affirming how far we have come as a church in finding our voice.  *

Several weeks prior I asked “What do we call the first song at liturgy?”  If you are a teacher (or a concrete thinker) you may have noticed that I never answered the question.  My real intention was to speak about varying purposes of the first hymn such as:

·         Personal Centering
·         Gateway to the days’ scripture
·         Gathering of the assembly in prayer
·         Procession of the priest and ministers **

So, what do we call the person who sings at the microphone in the front of the church?  

I call them Apryl, Gabrianna, Aaron, David and John although that’s not what this article is about.  Neither is it a bunch of liturgical norms (rules) nor a term paper written for some college course.    (That would bore you and I already have my degree.)

Today’s article is about the different roles of the singer and how each of these roles are  relate to developing our church’s voice.  I will explain using two of the pieces of music we will sing this weekend.

1.      Let All Creation (The first song found only in the bulletin)

This song is written in a call and response fashion.  I will sing first and the singer will serve as “leader of song" by singing the response with you.

2.  The Lord Is Kind and Merciful (Today’s psalm)

We have used this psalm quite a few times as it arises in the lectionary several times throughout the year.  In this case Aaron and Apryl will serve as the “psalmist.”  It is their job to “proclaim” the words of the psalm as it is part of the scripture of the day.  They also serve as the leader of song when singing the response with you.

In each of these songs the singer also serves as “animator.”  In other words; they raise their hands signaling it’s your time to join in.  

(Note:  This does not preclude you from joining in at other times.)

So, what about that congregation that sang really well with just the organ?  

I believe there are songs and parts of liturgy that do not require a leader of song.  Can you think of any?  Let me explain by giving an example.

The lights go out.  The cake comes in and one voice begins “Haaaaaappy birthday……”  by the time the “to you” comes everyone is singing together.   No leader.  No microphone; just a group of people singing.

We are going to do this with one sung prayer this week:  The Lamb of God.  The piano will begin, the animator will raise his or her hands and we will all sing together.  No leader.  No microphone; just a group of people singing.  Don’t worry: you’ve got this!


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