Sunday, May 20, 2007

Church Music

There's been some online discussion recently of church music; specifically, pipe organ music.

Having spent six years in religious (Catholic and then Protestant) schools where music permeated our lives and choral instruction was mandated, I am an unrepentant fan of the classical choral and organ repetoire, as well as of most other kinds of music. (We can delete from the list the twang of country and western -- although, hey, some of that is on my Brokeback Mountain soundtrack and it's fine -- and the contemporary praise music that is apparently seeping into our churches, but otherwise I'm good to go).

It seems that many churches feel compelled to go all out one way or the other insofar as the traditional/contemporary spectrum is concerned, and I am coming to understand how fortunate we are in our church to benefit from a music director who is a brilliant and well-trained organist full of enthusiasm for learning and teaching music representing all eras, cultures, and instruments (and a gifted educator of children and young people as well -- my daughter's years of participation in school, college, and Famous Orchestra children's choruses are entirely her doing).

Herewith, this morning's music, all selected with an eye toward its having been Confirmation Sunday for the eighth graders:

Uyai Mose/Come All You People
-- a Zimbabwean/John Bell combination (I can't find a good link but here are some of the lyrics)(and here is a link which credits the arrangement to a Roger Wesby, so who knows?),

a traditional (perhaps pre-Christian?) Kyrie and a traditional (early early early Christian) Gloria,

The Summons
~ a 1987 John Bell/Iona song,

a traditional 16th and 17th century Doxology (with inclusive language printed in the bulletin but used by few in the congregation),

Lord of the Dance, written in 1963, sung to the 19th century Shaker Simple Gifts tune, and one of our favorites.

The accompaniment this morning was all pipe organ, with the exception of piano for The Summons.

And further, on the subject of music: this morning we wrapped up our year of Adult Education on the theme of Practices of Faith, in the context of which we devoted three Sunday mornings this spring to The Practice of Singing Our Lives. Our own music director presented a class on her (expansive) philosophy of church music, and we welcomed a speaker on African-American sprituals and another on Gregorian chant. Musical expression is so integral to our congregational life that we couldn't imagine a year-long series on religious practice without addressing its power and vitality and variety.

And this from someone who can't string two notes together!


Kathryn said...

Wonderful music. "Lord of the Dance" is one of my very favorites but I love the classical pieces too.

Quotidian Grace said...

What great combinations of music for this service. I like all of them and would love to hear Lord of the Dance on the pipe organ. I'm not sure I've ever heard it played on anything but a piano.

My sister, the music director of a large Methodist congregation, tells me that it is really hard to find a director who is really comfortable and competent with both classical and contemporary repetoire. But if you find it, it's awesome!

Gannet Girl said...

QG, we are in the pre-Dark Ages insofar as our media is concerned, meaning that I'll send you a cassette of the service so that you can hear it, if it comes out well at all.