Sunday, August 20, 2006

Making melody to the Lord

Be filled with the Spirit, as you sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, singing and making melody to the Lord in your hearts, giving thanks to God the Father at all times and for everything in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
--Ephesians 5:18-20

Having enjoyed several different hymn-singing experiences this week, I was already thinking about the singing of "psalms and hymns and spiritual songs" before I heard this reading in church this morning.

Yesterday I sang at a Grange fair with an informal Quaker singing group. They had actually invited my Friendly husband to come and accompany them on his portable keyboard; I was sort of an add-on, but they let me sing with them anyway, and it was fun. I was reminded, though, of something I had already known about this group. In Quaker fashion there is no choir director, and one result is they tend to sing the same small collection of hymns over and over again.

I never joined the choir at my former Catholic church but for a while, when I was thinking about going back there, I considered it. I figured that up in the choir loft I'd be somewhat apart from the fray that was tearing the congregation apart, but I knew some of the others in the choir too well, knew who liked to gossip too much and about what, knew which side of various parish disputes they were on, and what subjects I shouldn't discuss in front of this one or the other, and that really was what I was running away from in the first place. (But I acknowledge that dealing with this kind of stuff may in fact be the unavoidable nitty gritty of being a community.)

I've also considered joining the choir at the Catholic church I attend most often now, because it might be a way to get to know some people and begin to become part of the life and worship of this church community while doing something I enjoy. I haven't done so, mostly because I don't feel ready to make that much of a commitment. I've also observed that in this modern church there is no choir loft but instead a sort of choir cave. The singers are a separate group occupying space apart in a darkish recess with a low ceiling in a back corner of the church, which I have to admit I don't find particularly appealing.

In the Episcopal church I also sometimes attend, there is no choir. Everyone sings, every verse and with great enthusiasm, but not always perfectly in tune, and a few of them really are too loud.

Seems to me you can tell something about each group just based on the singing ...


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