I've always been singing in choirs probably from the age of ten! Even to this day i sing and sometimes play flute and sax in our choirs in Dubai. Choir members are the most distracted people as they are always thinking of the next song they will sing, the key, the tune, the soft whispers regarding how many verses to sing, which mass parts etc. One goes to church but forgets what sermon was preached or what reading was read!
Choirs are also a great place to meet future partners (I met my wife in our Dubai choir! Her sister and brother too met their mates in the same choir!). When one is part of a church choir, there are those weekly practices, weddings, funerals, anniversaries, picnics and pound parties, giving ample opportunities to get to know each other.
Why do i write about choirs today? Well, an old picture posted by an old friend in FB of a carol-singing choir triggered the memories of all the friends I'd made in those good old days in Goa and today at mass, i was playing flute in our choir and between songs, fondly remembering each of those friends (some of them are still in touch with me over Facebook). When i came back home from church, i thought I'd research a bit on 'choirs' and write an article on the blog for my readers.
Choirs have a long history of leading worship. Many references to a choir of men and boys singing and playing instruments can be found in the Old Testament. Worship in the early Christian church drew on these models that had become a part of synagogue worship. During the Middle Ages, choirs continued to play an important role in the liturgical practice of the Christian church, particularly with the advent of polyphonic (multi-layered, more complex) music.
As such, the choir becomes an important leader in worship, guiding the gathered assembly in prayer and praise through song. Choir leaders will want to help the whole congregation to develop a clear understanding of the choir's role in the liturgy and its importance for the worship life of those assembled. In order to fulfil this calling, all choirs, no matter how large or small, no matter how limited or great their skill, will strive for excellence in all that they do.
Each of us, whether a worshipper in the pew or a choir member, will want to offer to God the best we can as our sacrifice of praise to God (Heb. 13:15). We should not be afraid of excellence. Rather, we should rejoice in it. How many of us, however, have been at a worship service where there was little care for detail, where the musical portions of the liturgy were ill-prepared and poorly executed? Instead of being absorbed in worship and sensing the importance of worship, our attention shifted to the difficulties of those trying to lead. Without exception, choirs want to be well prepared and to sing well. It is equally important that choristers understand that they are singing for worship, not for entertainment.
Our choirs can provide indispensable leadership for worship if we encourage them and adequately equip them for the task. Choirs that are enthusiastic, understand their role, and approach their task with a sense of reverence will, in turn, lead others to a profound conviction that through the music of the liturgy, we encounter the Holy God.