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October 21, 2018: A Voice from the Choir

by John Wiecking

 

“The end or final cause of all Music... must be nothing but just the glory of God and the recreation of the Mind.” – J. S. Bach

Bach (cribbing from a contemporary music theoretician) wrote the above referring to the skill of a keyboard player reading a series of bass notes with his left hand and letting the right hand improvise an accompaniment. I came upon it in the choir room of a Presbyterian church earlier this month, but surely the sentiment, having migrated from a Lutheran Kapellmeister to transplanted Scots Protestants, can be appropriated to support Anglican worship as well.

My first choral experiences came in the boys’ choir of a parish church a couple of miles away from All Souls. At ten years of age, I would warble around the house, “Thanks be to Thee: Thou hast Thy chosen people led, Israel, forth through the sea” (then attributed to Handel). Since those days I have rarely stopped singing in church choirs. It is one principal way I worship, and science has shown the utility of music experienced either actively or passively in integrating body and spirit and creating community. What a miracle, that mere vibrations in the air around us should have such an effect!

A parish church with a good music program can enliven the worship experience for all who attend, even if they prefer not to sing. Of course, such a program can so focus on the “recreation of the Mind” that churchgoers are tempted to forget the glory of God—but All Souls is unlikely to err in that direction. For example, our choir has recently begun singing the psalms to new and expressive settings that our director hopes will feel less to parishioners like arduous intellectual “performances,” and allow all to chant God’s glory in a way appropriate to our tradition.

A respectable music program like ours needs financial support. Though young, our organist and director of music Bobby Stubbs is a qualified professional. Our paid choral section leaders join us  for what in the Washington area is very modest remuneration. We would welcome more voices for the choir, but the quality that our music program at its best offers can only be obtained with help from our annual budget. I believe what we do glorifies God while exercising the mind, and I hope that members of All Souls support both efforts—in their hearts and with their pledges.

 

Weekly Messages in October are related to our 2019 stewardship campaign’s theme,
“Toward love and good deeds.” More info at www.allsoulsdc.org/giving.

Last Published: October 18, 2018 10:57 AM
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