The past month, I’ve had a couple of occasions to be a singer in a choir rather than the director. I always find this to be helpful to me – what is the director doing that I like/don’t like? What can I take away from this experience to make me a better director? Additionally, I enjoy singing. I always have; even though I’m not exactly a voice you’d want to hear singing a solo. And, what I love singing the most are hymns. There’s something about singing collectively with other people that is wonderful. It’s not about enjoying the sound of my voice (or anyone’s particular voice) – but rather the collective sound of everyone’s voices doing their equal share in offering praise without anyone sticking out unnecessarily. I am so grateful that in our tradition, we don’t have people with microphones singing hymns and thus overpowering the sound of the congregation’s voice.
As a kid, part of my piano lessons each week would include learning a new hymn. My piano teacher would assign a hymn, I’d learn it over the week and play it for her at my next lesson, and then be assigned the next hymn. This was largely at my mother’s insistence – she, herself, loved to play hymns on the piano and wanted me to learn this too. When my grandmother would come and visit, or when we’d visit her, I was always expected to play some hymns for her. Like my mother, she too was a church pianist.
This Sunday we’re doing a special Eastertide Hymn Festival at Christ Church. My good friend, Michael Smith, is coming to help out. He’s wonderfully creative, and like me, has an appreciation for hymns from a wide variety of traditions and styles. I hope you’ll join us and add your voice to those who will be singing. Christ Church is a strong hymn-singing community. I’ve heard one bishop comment that the sign of a healthy parish is how well they sing hymns. I believe there’s some truth to that! Additionally, singing hymns can be fun and I believe our service this Sunday will include a good bit of that too.