Friday 13 February 2015

7 February 2015 - CMM Choral Day

Roger introducing the day
On Saturday 7th February we hosted the first ever CMM Choral Day at St Andrew's church in Barnt Green.  The aim of the day was to invite choir trainers and singers to come and sample some of the anthems beginning to go online as part of the new CMM Choral Collection.  In order to widen the appeal of the day, we shared it with Roger Peach from the Jubilate Group and Mick Perrier from the Royal School of Church Music.

We were delighted to have so many book into the day - over 80 were present, and the day was full of wonderful singing.  Each organisation shared a variety of anthems and some tips and ideas for choirs leading worship in churches.  We were joined by a wonderful group of CMM soloists and instrumentalists - Amy, Paul, Sheila, Julia, and Christine, as well as Libby joining in on cello for the opening worship.

Annie leading worship
Annie led the opening worship, in which she was able to demonstrate contrapuntal singing (God is our shelter and strength), as well as how to bring in four-part harmony into contemporary worship songs using her lovely arrangement of the chorus of 'When I stand before your throne' by Matt Redman.  She also included some liturgy too!

Julia sight-reading for Roger
Julia did an amazing job on piano, playing whatever was put before her.  Paul, Amy and Sheila beautifully sang the various solos.  We also included two songs that are going to appear in Barnabas - the hymn 'O my Saviour lifted' and Roger's choral anthem 'The word became flesh'.  It was so exciting to hear them sung by a full choir for the first time.

Mick Perrier in action
Roger and Mick brought along some great music, all of which was greatly appreciated by the singers.  We pray that God continues to richly bless their ministries.

Finally, the most important question:

Why hold a choral day?

Here at CMM we firmly believe that choirs in churches can be a great help in leading worship.

1) Choirs can help with leading the singing both in traditional hymns and in modern songs.  Just because there is no harmony printed in the music doesn't mean harmonies can't be sung.  The music in Songs of Fellowship, for example, is just a launch pad.  See the 'Accompanying Praise' section in chapter 10 of  Worship Works for more information.  If choirs are seen visibly to be worshipping, then congregations will be inspired to worship God themselves.

2) Anthems are a ministry, not just a performance.  A well-chosen anthem at the right moment can massively bless a congregation.  Try starting a service with a lively anthem that invites the congregation to come before the Lord.  Anthems can help people reflect on the readings or sermon.  Even more excitingly, choirs can sing over people and minister to them during worship when the Holy Spirit is invited to move and speak to the congregation.  Here at CMM we love to use 'ministry songs' after the sermon, where a soloist sings over people words from God - and there is no reason why choirs cannot do the same.  Songs such as 'Engraved upon my palms' or 'Take, eat, this is my body' are ideal.  Reflective anthems such as 'See how he dies on a cross' and 'O love that will not let me go' from the CMM Choral Collection are also ideal.

There are so many ways choirs can bless and inspire in worship.  In Worship Works in chapter 16 we considered Mary's magnificat in Luke 2.  The Greek word, megaluno, is best translated as 'magnify'.  When we use a magnifying glass or telescope, we don't change the thing that is looked at.  Instead, we change our perception of the object in view.  So the question every choir and worship leader must answer is 'What appears to be bigger as a result of our ministry?  What am I magnifying?  Myself or Jesus?'

Sheila and Paul in action
Helen leading her session
Paul, Sheila and Amy singing 'Take, Eat, this is his body'
Roger Peach leading his session

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