It has been nearly ten years since I came to St. Mark’s. Periodically, I like to consult my job description to make sure I am doing the basic things that are supposed to help me lead the church’s song in this place. As I read, I am reminded how fortunate I am to have a job that I truly love and enjoy.
Did you know that the people of St. Mark’s have an important task that is part of my job description? Under the heading of “Congregation/Staff Support” are the following words:
We will pray continually for God’s gift of strength, courage, and creativity.
Your prayers in these three areas are truly appreciated, but I would like for you to add one more item – resources.
I’m not talking about money - although we need that to order new music and to maintain the organ, piano, harpsichord, and handbells. I’m talking about people to be active in our music programs.
You may have noticed we don’t currently have a children’s choir program. My dream is that someday we will have a fully graded choral program with choirs for early elementary, upper elementary, junior high, and senior high ensembles. Music is a perfect means to nurture our children and youth on their spiritual journeys to becoming mature Christians. One of my dreams is that the junior and senior high choirs would embark on summer tours in alternate years – presenting programs much like The Experience (Christ Lutheran Church in Charlotte, NC) has provided for us in recent years.
|St. Mark's children's choir members and their parents at a Chorister's Guild festival.|
|Children from St. Mark's Ark. These Orff instrument could be a useful tool in a new children's choir.|
We need more singers in the Festival Choir. The total number of singers has remained pretty constant over the years, but work commitments, family needs, and personal situations arise that affect our ability to confidently support the congregation’s singing (job number one!) and to provide musical offerings that are well-prepared, substantial, and artistic.
|The Festival Choir warms up on a Sunday morning.|
|Eric Olson's oboe adds beauty to our worship. Photo: Nicki Llinas|
It isn’t just about singers. For two years we have struggled to maintain an entry-level handbell choir.
What is the purpose of a church music program? Is it just to add beauty to worship? Is it merely an opportunity for those who enjoy music to have fun? Is it something to attract visitors to our faith community?
Church music may indeed accomplish all of these things, but our primary aim is to use God’s gift of music in the liturgy to glorify God and to edify those who gather as God’s people. We strive to maintain music’s role as the living voice of the gospel, to assist the community in its faith formation, and to celebrate the beauty of holiness. (See the Association of Lutheran Church Musicians Statement on Worship and Music at www.alcm.org.)
The gifts of all musicians are welcome at St. Mark’s. I invite you to take part.
So, the next time you pray, I encourage you to continue those prayers for strength, courage, creativity, and resources – not just for me, but for all musicians of St. Mark’s as we proclaim the gospel.
|Our Bach Vespers Choir proclaims the gospel. Photo: Nicki Llinas|
Your comments are welcome!