This evening at our Saturday evening service I looked around the sanctuary and two different times, once during the offertory and once during the closing hymn, I scanned the congregation and noticed that every last person in the room was singing. No kidding – everyone had a hymnal open and was singing, including a seven year old boy in the back right (his mom is an opera singer so maybe that is not so incredible), a nearly shut-in octogenarian in the third row, one of our day school teachers who just lost his wife to cancer this year, and our two high school boys serving as senior acolytes, not too mention the other 60-70 people at church tonight.
I attribute this to two things: we use the hymnal which is basically folk music of some sort or another and the fact that we have trained musicians (Cantor Phillip Magness and Associate Cantor Susan Keller) who have led the congregational song for the last several years. Cantor Magness has made it a priority to lead the music in such a way that invites and encourages people to sing. Things are far from perfect. Tomorrow at our more attended services we will have those typical church-goers who for whatever reason do not sing but even at those services I have noticed a high percentage of people singing.
Here’s to professional church musicians who put a premium not on concerts and thier own musicianship, but instead work to enhance the people’s song. We have lost some members over the years most likely because we preach law and gospel instead of felt needs and because we use the historic liturgy, but I will tell you this, the people we have (between 450 and 650 a weekend) are devout and dedicated to the historic liturgy and solid biblical preaching.