Singing In The Choir

Choral singing has been one of the most visible forms of building a community through music. Whether singing in a church choir, school choir, or community chorus, the social interaction and community spirit that is developed by singing together is rarely surpassed. Many of us start off singing together for the first time in kindergarten and continue singing throughout our young academic lives, grade school through college. When we are lucky enough to experience choral music in our religious lives, we discover how powerful music can be, transcending many boundaries and uniting sacred text with music. How many times does a familiar text take on a new depth of meaning when expressed through music? If you asked a choir member what is most meaningful to them about singing in the choir, you would naturally find a variety of answers. Several answers would include the love of music and the love of singing. But, two of the more striking aspects of singing in the choir remain the sense of involvement in our liturgies and the sense of community developed by singing together.

I have learned many things since I started my career as a church musician...a few, well, several years ago. The choir has the unique responsibility of providing the congregation with something special that enhances the congregation's worship experience. Learning something new about a text, learning something new to sing for or during a ritual we regularly participate in, and learning a new anthem or hymn provide ways in which a choir serves as a teacher. Offering an anthem every week is not merely an "ornament" to our worship but a presentation of a gift to God on behalf of those gathered together. I think that the 19th century religious poet Soren Kierkegaard summed it up best when he wrote that "liturgy is a drama; the worship leaders are the prompters, the congregation is the participant, and God is the audience."

Derek E. Nickels, DMA