Choirs are a Means of Evangelization

[The following is an excerpt from an article on how the revival of children’s choirs in a few Church of England parishes brings not only choristers into the church but their families as well.  In addition to choirs being a means of evangelization because they musically proclaim the Gospel, they are a means of evangelization because non-Christian choir members are exposed to, and instructed in, the faith.  The issue of whether church musicians should be believers is a non-issue, in my opinion.  They should be good musicians, which means bringing their intelligence and musical technique to the texts and the music they sing.  (This also includes honoring what is appropriate behavior in what professional musicians might call the performance context, which is to say the liturgy.)  If that takes place, choir members are evangelized by the very music they sing.]

When Richard Bendelow agreed to become organist at St Leonard’s, Loftus, in Cleveland, one of the most deprived parishes in the country, he did so on one condition: that he could start a children’s choir. The last one had been disbanded in 1969. Today, there are 14 members — expected to be 20 by Christmas — who sing every Sunday morning. They have been recruited from schools (none of which are C of E) where teachers “jumped at it as a unique opportunity to give free musical education to white working-class kids on Tyneside”, the Rector, the Revd Adam Gaunt, reports. … The church’s worship has been “embellished” by the choir, he continues, “and the average age of the congregation has significantly changed, with new families coming in.”

[Photo credit: All Saints’, Northampton]

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