Monday, July 18, 2011

A Singing Congregation

Sunday was wonderful -- the congregation demonstrated its growing confidence in its own voice. We continued to apply the lessons learned. We mixed familiar tunes with hymns new to the congregation. Two of the hymns we sang a cappella. 

This was the first Sunday I used my new audio recorder (Zoom H2). It proved a wonderful little device that can record in 360 degrees so it points at the congregation as well as the musicians. I plan to use this recorder as I travel the country in search of congregational singing . . .

Anyway, you can hear the results below. As you listen realize that this is a very average congregation led by musicians with no amplification.

The opening hymn/call to worship was a setting of Psalm 139, "Search Me O God" by J Edwin Orr (1936). We set it to the tune EVENTIDE by Monk (1861) which is associated with the hymn Abide With Me - but the mood seemed to fit and it is too good a tune to leave just for funerals! (click to listen)

We chose "How Deep the Father's Love" by Townend (1995) as the second hymn.  This is a beautiful hymn (We have re-written a couple of lines to take out the echos of the doctrine of limited atonement and (to my mind) a cold understanding of penal substitutionary atonement that takes away Christ's agency). (click to listen)

Our closing hymn (coming after the offering) was Isaac Watt's setting of Psalm 106 (1719) to the OLD 100th from the Genevan Psalter (1551). We book-ended the psalm with the familiar "Praise God from whom all blessings flow" (Doxology). The congregations volume swells as the psalm progresses. From the front we could hear harmonies coming from the pews. (click to listen)

After the service we received a great deal of positive feedback. It was not the generic "we enjoyed your music today." Instead, we had people asking us about tunes etc. Libby observed that folk are starting to have a sense of ownership of their singing in the service. One father of an eighteen year old said his son loved singing his own harmonies . . .

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