Saturday, 21 February 2015

The Role and Expectation of the Church Choir at Mass

The choir has a variety of responsibilities. Their primary role is to support and enhance the congregation in song. As such, the choir becomes an important leader in worship, guiding the gathered assembly in prayer and praise through song. Here are some thoughts about the role and expectation of a choir:

Role

The choir as a facilitator.

  • The mission of a choir is to lead in prayer.
  • They do not stand as artists in isolation, trying to demonstrate their skill or to display vocal feats.
  • They stand not as an individual but with a congregation and must identify themselves with the congregation.
  • Their task is to represent as well as to inspire a community by breathing life into the text as they sing with clear understanding and insight into the words and their meaning.

The choir as teacher.

  • The choir may even be called upon to act as teacher, to help the assembly learn new hymns and musical settings of the liturgy, and if the congregation is to learn new music quickly and accurately, the people must have enthusiastic and competent leadership.
  • The choir needs to spend adequate time learning new liturgical music well and in the proper style so that it can communicate not only the correct melodies and rhythms, but also a sense of the music’s mood and style in such a way that the music is infectious and compels those in the congregation to sing with the choir.

Expectations

  1. Choirs should be well prepared and sing well. Does that mean that our choirs need to be filled with professional singers? Absolutely not! Any choir can sing well, provided the music is appropriate to their skill level and they are well trained and rehearsed. Music that is simple and well executed provides choirs with a means to get beyond the mechanics and give heartfelt expression to the text. This music, in turn, can provide the whole assembly with a means truly to encounter God in its worship.
  2. Choirs should dress well and be well groomed. This is to promote a sense of reverence in Church, especially during Mass. If we can dress well for an important function, should we not dress well when we come into the presence of the Lord?
  3. Choir members should be committed to their leadership role by rehearsing for several hours each week, as well as being present for Mass each Sunday. For those who cannot make a long-term commitment, they should at least commit themselves for certain periods of time to ensure a continuous presence of the choir at Mass.
  4. May anyone sing in the choir? Making music in a choir requires teamwork; each singer must be able to contribute to the whole. Choir leaders should not feel uncomfortable about carefully guiding would-be choir members who have no innate musical skills into other avenues of service or leadership.
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 will encounter the Holy God.

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