"Notes from the Bench"
Thursday, 28 April 2011 13:10
Dear Friends in Christ,
Alleluia! Christ is risen indeed! Alleluia! What a wonderful Easter Celebration we had last week. It was so nice to hear you all singing so robustly. Many times I had the organ at full volume and I could STILL hear you. Incredible. A special shout-out to our choir and guest musicians. In my humble opinion, I think our choir sounded just top notch and all of the music was beautifully enhanced by our wonderful instrumentalists. Again, incredible.
Pastor Chris said a wonderful thing in his sermon last Sunday that I found so touching. He said that when things are looking bad and when we are feeling defeated the best thing we can do is to sing. How many times do we turn on the radio or listen to our i-pods when we are feeling blue? In the movies there is always a great soundtrack when people are rallying and often times the characters start singing as they are trying to hold it together. (Lord of the Rings anyone???)
The voice of the Lord is a powerful voice;The voice of the Lord is a voice of splendor.(Psalm 29:4)
The Psalms look like just another book of the bible but they are actually songs that Christians inherited from their Jewish ancestors. These sung prayers to God touch on joy, lament, questioning of God, devotion and history. The Psalm isn't just a fourth reading each Sunday but it is a response to what is happening. They really are a gift passed down among generations and it is an honor that we get to sing them each week.
The structure of the Psalms makes them very singable and they flow well to music. The verses are parallel in structure, which means that the first part of the verse makes a statement and the second part responds in a parallel way. For example:
There are many ways to sing the psalms. Traditionally it was call and response. Here at GA we've been employing the practice of the congregation singing the entire psalm. Different tones can be used as well. We currently use tones from the ELW that were originally part of Gregorian chant and then harmonized by the Anglicans and became known as Anglican chant. However, the world is full of wonderful psalm tones and responses. Neil Criste-Troutman used to compose the psalm tones and response tunes that we used each week.
The reason why we sing the Psalms is no different than why we sing our hymns and liturgy. By singing by are joined together in a way that no other action can duplicate. If we are feeling down or full of joy we lift our voices to the glory of God. We are unified in word, act and deed so with all the saints and angels of heaven we praise Your name and join their unending hymn.