Sing Psalms and Hymns and Spiritual Songs


It is choir night tonight and as I sit inside my cosy warm house with my dog by my side, my computer on my lap, and a blanket over my feet going out the door into the cold and dark is the farthest thing from my mind!  I suppose some context is in order here.  I am the director of the choir at my church and we meet Thursday evenings to go through the hymns for Sunday’s service, and the anthems we are preparing for upcoming weeks.  We are a pretty casual group, and very small with only seven singers plus the organist.  Following our practice we meet together in the kitchen at the church for a coffee, munchies and some social time.  If you like to sing and socialize this probably sounds like a great way to spend an evening!

I never regret having gone to choir after I get there, but there are definitely weeks when I don’t want to go and would like nothing better than a good excuse to cancel a practise!  So how do I get transformed from the grumbling, grudging, foot-dragging choir director who leaves the house to the happy camper who leaves the church at the end of practise each week?

  • good music? Hymns are chosen, usually by the minister or whomever is leading the service.  They are usually chosen to match the message that is being preached.  For instance, when we had a service recently on the week of The Baptism of Christ we had hymns on the theme of baptism in general as well as one specifically about Christ’s baptism.  In our church we sing from the Presbyterian Church of Canada Book of Praise which is a collection of many musical styles and from many different time periods.  What the music has in common is that the lyrics fit within the theological focus of our denomination, and the music has stood the test of time.  This selection was put together by a committee with much study, prayer and consideration as to spiritual and musical value.  Similarly, I try my best to have the anthems match up with one or more of the Lectionary readings for the week.
  • good people?  Our choir is made up of volunteers from our church family.  At present most of us have been singing in this group for between five and twenty years.  We are committed (some might say we should be committed ;o) to leading the singing in worship and joining our voices to the heavenly choir in praising God.
  • good conversation?  Other than the frequent off topic turns during the rehearsal itself our discussions at coffee time range the gamut from what is going on in our work and family lives, to world events, politics, the growth and nurturing of our church and issues of polity within our denomination.
  • good God!  God is the real reason why this is such an uplifting experience!

 Ephesians 5:15-33  15Be careful then how you live, not as unwise people but as wise, 16making the most of the time, because the days are evil. 17So do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. 18Do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery; but be filled with the Spirit, 19as you sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, singing and making melody to the Lord in your hearts, 20giving thanks to God the Father at all times and for everything in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

          Even in my darkest mood it is nearly impossible to sing the hymns and spiritual songs without being filled with the Holy Spirit and thus filled it is sometimes all can do to keep my feet on the ground!  Of course, not every week is equal in the feeling of inspiration, but there is always more light while we are singing than there seemed to be before we began.  Some people rely on getting drunk on alcohol to wash away their troubles for a time,  but I believe that giving thanks to God through song is a much better approach!

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