The Role of Choir in Church Worship
Pramod Viswanathan (Choir Master, CSI, Valiathura)
The Church Choir has an indispensable role in Church Worship. Choirs played an important role in the worship of the Christian church. particularly with the advent of polyphonic (multi-layered , more complex) music.
The choir has a variety of responsibilities. Their primary role is to support and enhance the congregation in singing worship songs. As such, the choir becomes an important leader in worship, guiding the gathered assembly in prayer and praise through song. The choir is that portion of the congregation that is trained and rehearsed for the specific task of leading the song and praise of the people . choir leaders will want to help the whole congregation to develop a clear understanding of the choir’s role in the worship and its importance to lead the worship of those assembled. In order to fulfill to this calling, all choirs, no matter how large or small , no matter how limited or great their skill, will strive for excellence in all that they do.
This does not mean that our choirs need to be filled with professional singers. 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 taught provides choirs with a means to get beyond the mechanics and give heartfelt expression to the song. This music, in turn, can provide the whole assembly with a means truly to encounter God in its worship
Choirs must thoroughly rehearse the hymns to be sung in the worship, so that they can lead with confidence. The choir may even be called upon to act as teacher, to help the assembly learn new songs ; if the congregation is to learn new music quickly and accurately, the people must have enthusiastic and competent leadership.
Above all, the well-rehearsed choir will breathe life into the text as it sings with clear understanding and insight into the words and their meaning. The texts can shape the faith of those who worship.
Many congregations are blessed with excellent choirs, and in addition to leading sunday worship, these choirs may be encouraged to present a concert of sacred music or a choral evening prayer once or twice a year. These events give the choir a chance to prepare an extended work that may not be suited to the Sunday morning worship, but that contributes to the spiritual growth of the congregation. The gifts and leadership of the choir should be shared with use in our churches, due in most part to the hectic lifestyles we lead. Some singers commit to sing in the choir for a particular season, resulting in varying groups of people serving as the choir throughout the year. Some congregations have a festival choir that enables singers who cannot make a long – term commitment to rehearse for five or six weeks, perparing for a festival service of season when a larger choir is needed or desired. In congregations with two Sunday Worships, some choirs divide in half, each singing in one worship. On festival days, the entire choir sings at both. Some congregations have a choir for children. Others have intergenerational choirs or combine adult and children’s choir on occasion Children certainly can provide musical leadership for worship.Creative choir programs that fit a local situation can be rewarding both to the choir member and the worshipers they lead.
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 songs for worship, we encounter the Holy God.