PREPARING THE WAY

Every Sunday, the church is called to worship, and the choir serves a vital role in that sacred call. The new choir year offers directors an opportunity to remind our singers of the value of treating practice as sacred time. Beyond crunching notes and marking scores, there are many things about the time of preparation that encourage our spirits to be focused on the deeper matters of faith.

“Excellence in all things and all things for the glory of God,” so the saying goes, but getting the group to grasp this part of the process from the very beginning can be a challenge. Facilitating the transition from our busy lives into a focused, purpose driven time of rehearsal is essential for the modern church choir.

Sometimes a simple prayer can help be that bridge moment to bathe the gathering with the spirit of worship and devotion. To accompany these opening petitions, I have assembled some brief, but powerful scriptures to quote before the prayer each week to provide a biblical foundation for the time of rehearsal. Encouraged by these ideals and brought into focus by the sincerity of prayer, the choir rehearsal can begin with an earnest striving to honor God in our preparations and offer even in this time a pleasing sacrifice of praise.

 

“Therefore, let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name. But do not forget to do good and to share, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.”  -Hebrews 13:15-16

Worship is more than the music we sing, “We must live our Alleluias.”

“Come, let us sing for joy to the LORD; let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation.” -Psalm 95:1

This jubilant scripture is a simple, to the point, call to purpose for the church choir!

“Encourage each other with psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your hearts to the LORD. Always give thanks to God the Father for everything in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Be willing to serve each other out of respect for Christ.” -Ephesians 5:19–21

This scripture transcends style and speaks clearly about the ministry that music has to offer. It is also clear that God looks upon the heart as we worship. It is important for our “hearts” to be tuned for his praise! We must remind ourselves why we belong to the church: to serve and support one another in our faith. We dedicate ourselves to walk in the light together, a family of faith, followers in Christ.

This scripture also affirms that the ministry of music is far more than our sonic offerings, but rather a combination of thanksgiving and service to others.

“My lips will shout for joy when I sing praise to you—I whom you have delivered.” Psalm 71:23

Let us be reminded that it is in praising God that we are meant to find joy and peace. That when we have been delivered from the evils of the world, may we open ourselves to feel the freedom in God’s love.

“He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear the LORD and put their trust in him.” -Psalm 40:3

When we join together as one voice, each of us brings something special to the song. This is the beauty of God’s creation: not one of us is without a gift or offering, and it is in sharing it that we find purpose in God’s plan.

“Praise the LORD, for the LORD is good; sing praise to his name, for that is pleasant.” Psalm 135:3

Our mission does not always have to be so lofty. Perhaps it is important to remind ourselves that often the reason we join in worship is for the shear simplicity that it is pleasant to us.

“My heart, O God, is steadfast, my heart is steadfast; I will sing and make music.” -Psalm 57:7

There is a rhythm to the devoted life, and each of us has their own unique beat. Perhaps it comes in waves of daily practice, weekly worship, and annual pilgrimage. No matter how this rhythm manifests in your own life, it is pivotal to align with the beat of one’s own routine and stand firmly in it. It is from here that we make space to truly devote ourselves to the faith.

“The trumpeters and musicians joined in unison to give praise and thanks to the LORD. Accompanied by trumpeters, cymbals, and other instruments, the singers raised their voices in praise to the LORD and sang: ‘He is good; his love endures forever.’ Then the temple of the LORD was filled with the cloud …” -2 Chronicles 5:13

In the Old Testament, smoke in the temple was the Presence of God. Music has always been used in worship services as an invitation to congregate. But even more than our physical buildings of worship, it is in the sanctuary of the heart that the Presence of God dwells in His people.

 

Jonathan Martin received a degree in Interdisciplinary studies from Naropa University with an emphasis in World Religion and Psychology. An accomplished writer his lyrics have been set to music by composers such as Brad Nix, Victor Johnson, John Purifoy, Jon Paige and his father Joseph Martin. Jonathan lives in Austin, Texas.

Editors Note:

Checkout Jonathan’s latest publications by clicking on the links below.

Rejoice! Christ is Born

Come, Gentle Peace

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