Today’s entry probably has too much shop talk for most non-church musicians. But it’s what’s on my mind this morning. I came home from church so enthused that I sat down and emailed a bunch of people who had played that day at service. Then I formed a Facebook group for musicians at my church. You can see I’m out of control but it’s typical of my enthusiasms.
I was surprised that almost every person I invited to come early and play rhythm instruments for the opening South African hymn at church yesterday showed up. I took advantage of the moment and grabbed several emails of young people. Asked them if they would mind being put on a musicians on call list. Asked them for other names.
After some rehearsal they came together. I decided to begin the hymn with the rhythm instruments. This allowed them to settle in (which they had no problem doing since we had just been rehearsing it) but also it gave the congregation a chance to notice the novelty of the rhythm instruments before beginning to sing.
So the rhythmic energy poured out of the music area. The singing was not that strong. I had planned to drop out the organ at one point but decided not to since I mostly heard rhythm instruments and organ (playing the vocal parts). It’s possible we could have seduced them into better singing with softer rhythm instruments but I’m not sure about that.
Interestingly the participation in the rest of the service was strong. It was especially noticeable in the Gloria which followed not too far from the opening hymn. But it seemed to me to persist into the rest of the service.
In addition to the South African hymn at the beginning of the service, there was quite a variety of other musics.
Prelude – Bach organ piece
Opening hymn – South African drum piece
Sequence hymn – Strong rhythmic German chorale upon which the Bach organ piece was based (If thou but suffer God to guide thee) with organ accompaniment
Offertory – A Capella rendition of “I have decided to follow Jesus” (This often mistaken for an American spiritual when in fact it comes from the continent of India)
Communion hymns – Charismatic/Praise hymn “Seek ye first”
followed by the gentle but strong German chorale ” Come with us, O blessèd Jesus.” This is the tune used in the famous Bach cantata movement, “Jesu, joy of man’s desiring.”
Closed out the service with great text “Love Astounding” sung to the simple American tune called HOLY MANNA.
I was creative with the organ accompaniments as usual. I introduced the closing hymn on a simple flute stop and also used this sound in an interlude since the hymn was only two stanzas and the procession didn’t really have time to exit.
The postlude was a loud dissonant four pages from Hindemith’s organ sonata.
This seemed like a good solid musical service to me and I came home excited and satisfied.