Praise to the Holiest in the height,
and in the depth be praise;
In the last blog I spoke about imitation, the idea of imitating me in the same way that I imitate Christ. Nowhere is this more obvious than in the field of music in church.
A few pointers.
- No instrument is easier to follow than the human voice.
- The only way to lead people in praising God is to praise God.
- Music has to be loud enough to hear.
- If people cannot hear themselves sing, then the music is too loud.
The style of music used in worship is irrelevant, it people in the congregation cannot hear themselves because the organ has all the stops pulled out, or if the rock guitarist is turned up to eleven, it is the same problem, turn down!
You can lead with an instrument providing the melody to follow, but voice is easier for the non musician, they follow firstly by imitation. Be visible. It’s even easier to follow the singer you can see.
Worship is all about God; it is not about you. Musicians and singers, you are not there to impress people with the brilliance of your performance, play within yourself, but don’t be sloppy, bad playing distracts people.
I have heard people say that we are told to rejoice, but we are not told in the Bible to be tuneful. That is just an excuse for being sloppy, we are told if not to be tuneful then to be skilful. Check out Psalm 33:3 if you don’t believe me. Skilful playing lifts people in worship, bad playing and showing off detract – they are both as bad as each other. Again be visible: If people can see you are worshipping God it helps them to worship God.
And don’t hog the limelight, let other people have their turn in leading. 1 Chronicles 25:8, amid the list of names for musicians for the temple, says that they cast lots for their duties, teacher and pupil alike. You may be the best musician or singer in your church, but it is important (and Biblical) to let others have their turn.
Be heard. You will be outnumbered, so sing up and turn up. People are not going to be led by what they can’t hear. The traditional way was to increase the number of singers, that’s what a choir is, but the choir will still be outnumbered so it’s important to sing up and be heard. The number of singers is less important with contemporary music with microphones, someone can turn you up.
It is important to bear in mind that worship is not performance. If you are in a church choir because you enjoy choral music, and are singing to a congregation of choral music lovers, then that’s OK. But make sure that what you are doing is about how great God is, not how great choir is. The same applies to contemporary worship and 1970’s style folk worship. It is all about God.
But it is also all about imitation, and the congregation will be imitating you. Set a good example, if you do what you do to bring glory to God people can follow and do the same. Playing music in a church is a great privilege, and a great responsibility.