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Should We Have Choirs in Our Protestant Reformed Church Services?

(Note: This article presents the affirmative side of the question in what was originally planned as pro and con discussion. These articles are not intended to be a critique of our church services, but only to serve as an aid for possible debates, round table discussions etc. in our Young People’s Societies. The negative appeared last month. — Editor)

 

(AFFIRMATIVE)

As Protestant Reformed Churches, we have not introduced the choir into our church services for various sound reasons (see Beacon Lights, Jan. 1957). However, for the sake of argument (see note above) we would like to present a few ideas which could be used to uphold the opposite view.

Throughout Scripture, the choir-audience relationship has been established as a desirable method of education, inspiration, and testimony.

A significantly large percentage of David’s Psalms were written for various singing groups, through which he passed to Israel the messages God had inspired him to write.

The choir of angels which sang praises to God at the time of the announcement of Christ’s birth, clearly indicated that the choir was a desirable, effective, God approved means of worshipping Him.

Congregational singing is an important part of the Reformed heritage, due to the personal nature of our concept of salvation. In our singing we often substitute sheer volume for skill as an indication of our sincerity, and forget that congregational singing, being both testimony and praise, is worthy of preparation and education. The function of teaching the congregation could become an important part of the choir’s duties, for not only does the Psalter grow in beauty when sung by trained voices, but the congregation could learn many of the now unfamiliar or incorrectly sung songs in our Psalter.

Just as some are given the talent of teaching to exercise in the church, so others are given the gift of singing to develop in the service of Christ’s church. What more fitting use of such a talent-could there be than to use this developed gift of singing as a part of the church services; never as a substitute for the congregational singing, but as a compliment to it.

Often objection is made to the performer-audience relationship into which a choir falls when introduced into the church services. However, this relationship is not as foreign to our services as we sometimes assume. The organist who plays the prelude, which serves to encourage a reverent atmosphere, also comes into this relationship and with definite beneficial results.

The choir, then, could benefit our churches as the highest exercise of a God-given talent; could serve to teach by example, how the Psalter should be sung and also teach us how to sing many presently neglected, but desirable numbers.