Why Is Music So Important in Worship?
It is a rare worship service that does not include music of some sort. But why do we include music in our worship? The reasons are many, but here we will touch on just a few.
First, singing is a very natural thing to do. There is a very basic human need to know where we came from and why we are here. One of the earliest means of communicating the stories of the past to future generations was through songs that told the history of the people. The children of Israel often commemorated events that demonstrated the intervention of God in their lives. For instance, in Exodus we read how the Lord instructed Moses to part the Red Sea so that the Israelites could cross, but drowned the pursuing Egyptians. Almost the entire 15th chapter of Exodus is a song that tells of the Israelites’ deliverance from the Egyptians, and praises and gives glory to the Lord.
We are no different; our hymns and anthems tell the story of Christianity, and provide us with a means to communicate the church’s theology, to instruct on how to worship, to teach small portions of Scripture, and to speak of ways to successfully minister to others. They proclaim the gospel and emphasize the importance of telling the good news of salvation.
It is important for our children to know the story of our faith, and one of the ways that we communicate those stories is through song. Beginning in the Nursery Class with Mrs. Barron as the teacher, the children learn the basics of our faith through songs such as “Jesus Loves Me” and “This Little Light of Mine.” Our Minister of Music works with the Sunday School teachers and staff to periodically find time to sing with the children during the Sunday School hour so that they can learn other songs that help them to remember the lessons they learn in Sunday School.
In our Sunday worship services, we sing several hymns (usually three) accompanied by the organ, and the choir usually sings an anthem. Our Minister of Music, Sue Camuso, consults with the Pastor to select music that supports the theme of service and the pastor’s message. Our hymns tend to be of the traditional variety, with an occasional contemporary hymn. The hymns are selected more for content than for style of music. The same is true of the anthems that the choir sings; they are selected more for content than style. However, we do have a varied repertoire, which includes pieces by composers such as Handel and Mozart, traditionally-styled anthems, and works by contemporary composers.
Our choir meets weekly for rehearsal. Each year at Christmas time, we invite other folks who like to sing, but cannot make a commitment to a weekly rehearsal throughout the year, to join us for our annual Christmas cantata. We usually present a Christmas musical written by a contemporary composer, and accompanied, all or in part, by recorded music. For the past several years, we have taken our Christmas cantatas “on the road,” and presented it at Peter Becker Community and Schwenckfeld Manor, where they have been well received.
Once a year, usually in early June, we have an all-music Sunday. During this service, the choir sings several anthems, usually ones that the choir enjoys singing, or the congregation particularly enjoys hearing. It also gives us an opportunity to take requests for hymns, so that almost everyone gets to sing a verse or two of his or her favorite hymn.
In addition to choral music, organ or piano music is incorporated into each worship service. We also encourage those who play other instruments to participate in special services, such as our all-music service, or at other special times of the year. We find that this is an excellent way to share the musical gifts that God has given us.
For those of you who may be organ aficionados, our organ started its life as a Rogers “850” two-manual organ. It was altered to suit the needs of a well-known organist, to whom it previously belonged. Included with the organ are a two-octave set of tubular chimes, and a “zimbelstern,” or “star of bells,” which can be seen above the organist. If you’d like more information about the organ, please see Sue Camuso after any worship service. She’ll be happy to give you a tour!