One of the most important developments we have seen in the modern church over the past ten years is the inclusion of multi-cultural elements into our worship services. Nowadays, we regularly find our sanctuaries graced with music, art, and worship traditions from lands other than our own. In this article, I would like to share with you an easy way to incorporate multi-cultural elements into your future programming.
Take a quick inventory of the repertoire in your choir library. Do you have any music that is inspired by other cultures? Perhaps you have a medley of hymns from Italy, or an octavo featuring the infectious dance rhythms of Brazil. If you have seven or eight anthems of this sort in your library, then consider planning an entire choral presentation incorporating music that originates from outside of the United States.
The performance possibilities for this type of event are truly endless. For example, you might wish to find public domain images showing the people, landscapes, and traditions of each country represented in the music. These images could then be displayed at the appropriate moments as the concert progresses, thereby adding a multi-media aspect to the production.
As a crowning moment, share a Communion service together at the conclusion of the concert. Perhaps breads from various countries might be brought into the sanctuary for this special time. Before departing, ask your congregants to rise and sing “In Christ There Is No East or West” together.
Following the concert, invite the congregation to a church-wide meal and fellowship. In preparation for this, invite members of the church to prepare dishes that represent their respective ethnic backgrounds. In this way, you are involving your entire faith community in the presentation of this event, and not just the choir alone.
All of this could also be done during the Christmas season. There is a vast amount of Christmas repertoire available today that is multi-cultural. If you wanted to make the concert a more formal presentation, Joseph Martin has written two major works based on this premise. The first one is entitled “A World of Christmas,” and the second one is his upcoming cantata for Christmas 2017. It is entitled “The Song Heard ‘Round the World,” and it will be available for purchase in the very near future.
As always, be on the lookout for future articles from me as we explore new ways to “think outside of the loft!”
Editor’s Note: here are a few multi-cultural anthems that you might consider for use during the Christmas season.