Sunday, October 24, 2010
What Happened to Singing
I am sad to say that most of the Lutheran parishes around me (even in a very wide radius) have no regular choir and not a few have seasonal or festival choirs for the high and holy days. When I look at the ages of the choir members in my own parish, too many of them are on the other side of age 50 and not enough of them are on the underside of age 30. Part of this is due to the fact that singing in parts is alien to many of those under age 30. They have to learn this in order to sing in the parish choir (not that it cannot be learned -- it can and I heartily encourage folks who have never sung in parts before to give it a try). Part of it is due to the fact that churches have abandoned so called "traditional" worship in favor of praise bands where everyone is a soloist and everyone sings melody. Plus the miniature microphones that flow out of the ear toward the mouth are just too cool for words.
Choral music is a particularly Lutheran domain. We have the giants among the field of composers (Bach, Schutz, Praetorius, etc) as well as great representation among the newer composers (Schalk always comes to mind). I have often spoken of the need for a sound track to match our piety to our confession and choral music is one particular area where Lutheran piety is well-expressed. My own day begins with choral music for an hour or two in the early moments of the morning before everything else steals the day away. I feel the lack when this time is lost to me.
So I would encourage all those singers out there to join your parish choir. I would also encourage folks to purchase some cds of choral music and listen to them. I enjoy every Sunday morning at 5 am listening to Sing for Joy in which the lessons of the day are presented from a musical (choral) perspective. This is not a matter of a lost art being recovered or even an aesthetic appeal but a call to remember why God gave us this things called music, why He equipped our voices to sing, and what glory there is when His name is raised in choral song. No, I could not imagine liturgical life without music, without hymns, and without choral song.