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Music in Worship
Music is one of the most important components of corporate worship and I know that a sensitive musician can help create atmospheres ranging from reflective to joyous to prayerful to celebratory.
It is my duty to support the pastoral staff in creating a space where individuals can come together and practice their faith.

When I select preludes and postludes, I try to match them to the hymns being sung, thus creating an audible connection between the two. I draw from all historical periods to give listeners a variety of styles. Since no single instrument can play all of the organ repertoire, I choose music that best showcases the strengths of the organ. Finally, I make choices that are congruous with the liturgical calendar.

In churches that follow the lectionary, I base anthem selections on the appointed readings. Doing so helps create cohesion to the service while reinforcing the scriptural theme of the day. It is of course necessary to consider the ability of the choir and the tastes of the congregation; still, striking a balance between all three is easily achieved when considered thoughtfully.

Since it is impossible to please all of the people any of the time, it is best to choose music that reflects a wide sample of the musical spectrum. By carefully introducing new pieces one can help the congregation expand its appreciation of music while simultaneously contributing to the successful practice of corporate worsh

Ministering Through Music
Since society today is void of much spiritual meaning, many people actively yearn to contribute to the betterment of humankind. Any religious institution, therefore, that provides moments of solace from modern stresses and also links us with our collective past—in part by offering admirable music—attracts those souls searching for both a validation of life and a more profound means to affect those near them.

And, in partnership with other equally important liturgical components, churches thus create a community in which people may flourish, heal and be healed, touch and be touched, and, finally,
find his or her own path to those truths that Jesus held so dear: truths that lead to a closeness—indeed a oneness—with God.

Whether practiced carefully by the choir alone or in a communal effort, music in worship is primarily an offering to God: neither performed for the sake of the participants, the clergy, nor the congregation. To present this intangible gift to God, and regardless of its style, a church musician must necessarily strive for the finest effort from himself and also from those in the program.

Musical and personal growth occur when goals are realistic yet steep and boundaries expansive. Young people gain respect for valuable traditions and the importance of teamwork when they aspire to make great music. Enabling the congregation to worship in an atmosphere of liturgical splendor offers a chorister the pleasure of giving freely of himself. Hence, music becomes not only the ideal vehicle for the individual growth of members of the choir, but for the spiritual growth of the parish community as well.

One final thought: Artistic integrity challenges performers to seek out those sublime aesthetic truths contained in all great music; inevitably, it is these pearls that touch performer and listener alike. In my own artistic sojourn, I desire in my organ playing and choral direction to press out these truths—to make them clear and affecting and majestic—so that in every professional undertaking I may proffer to my own God musical offerings that are praiseworthy and that will contribute significantly to the corporate uplifting of those principles that Jesus Christ found more exalted than transient life itself.

Journey in Faith
Religion has been an important part of my life since I was a child. Growing up in a mill village church in Greenville, SC, I was exposed to the style of worship that was characteristic of fundamentalist Baptist congregations at that time. As I matured and discovered more of the world, I experimented with other denominations, including Presbyterian, Roman Catholic and Episcopal.

Through it all I was drawn to the power of music in worship; indeed, as a teenager I decided to make church music my life’s work. The majesty of the organ (even if it was an electric Hammond) and the thrill of congregational singing became embedded in my heart and convinced me that church music was a worthy calling.

Having explored varying styles of worship, along with the corresponding theology, my faith became broader. I grew to appreciate the teachings of Jesus in a way I’d never known before. I was able to separate the perfection of God from the imperfections of organized religion; I learned to nurture my spirituality by studying the scriptures and building a prayerful life.

Today I accept the teachings of the church as expressed in its creeds and believe in the power of individuals coming together to spread the gospel of Jesus through good works, service and tolerance. And, through integrating the guidance offered by twelve-step programs of recovery into my spiritual life, I believe more than ever in the power of God to redeem my life.

Working with Others
In any organization where people give of their time and of themselves, there is a delicate balance between the needs of the group and the needs of the individual. In keeping with my belief that religious institutions best serve others—and themselves—by practicing tolerance and being inclusive, we never want to disenfranchise anyone from our community.

That being said, there are times when certain individuals create difficulties for the group. Obviously, these situations require a fair and balanced solution. When children or adolescents continually disrupt rehearsals, I first attempt to address the challenging behavior directly—by speaking to him or her in private. I consult my colleagues about the issue and contact the parents. If no positive change in behavior occurs, then a decision has to be made regarding the person’s continuing participation in the program. Of course it is paramount to always exhibit compassion.

Whenever conflicts occur, it is important to be gentle; confrontation is harmful and destructive.
In almost every circumstance a solution to problems can be reached; for myself, I must constantly take personal inventory to determine my role in it, for no problem is one-sided; more often than not an apology—either to an individual or to a group—goes a long way toward resolution and healing.

When I first became artistic director of the Central City Chorus in New York, I privately listened to every singer. I discovered one lady who had obvious vocal challenges and was well past her singing years. I contemplated moving her into a supporting role—one that would not involve singing. After consultation with the board, however, I concluded that the political and personal costs were too great and I took no action. It was, in hindsight, the best decision.

In my dealings with others I always reach out to my co-workers and supervisors. All things being equal, the perfectionist in me would much rather avoid making a mistake. It’s not always easy for me to take advice (or as it is said in the program, a “suggestion”); I find, though, that whenever I do the outcome is always more successful than anything I could have done on my own.

©2017 David Friddle   |   vCard