In my ministry thus far I’ve worked with four Music Directors. There are some jokes Ministers have with one another about “diva musician” Music Directors, and I am fortunate that this has NOT been my experience! (Pastors are always wonderful, easy to work with, and end up as the hero in these stories to boot.) Anyway, one area where the Minister and Music Director have to be on the same page (and it can lead to conflict) is the selection of hymns. Some Music Directors prefer to pick the hymns themselves, some would like to pick collaboratively, and others prefer that the Minister picks the hymns. Kim happens to prefer that I pick the hymns.
Now that we livestream, Kim has to figure out music copyright each week for every single piece played or sung and register the music through One License. Sometimes the hymns I pick aren’t covered by One License (hence the inserts we sometimes have in our bulletins from other hymnals!) When this happens, we figure out alternatives together. Even with these new complications, I don’t mind picking hymns. Though sometimes I pick a hymn (particularly the hymn we sing right after the sermon) more so for the lyrics that coincide with the theme of my sermon as opposed to it being popular or even all that easy to sing.
So with all of that explained . . . last Sunday was the First Sunday of Advent. I went “all in” on Advent hymns. As you may recall, we sang “Lift Up Your Heads, Ye Mighty Gates,” “People, Look East,” and “O Come, O Come Emmanuel.” When we got back to the parsonage, Neill said, “Can I give you feedback about worship?” (He knows to ask me this question before he launches into something further. He’s such a smart guy that Neill.) “Oh, sure.” “Some of those hymns were hard to sing, and not well known.” “Are you serious? Those are well-known and SUPER singable Advent hymns!” “Well, I think the congregation would agree with me, and especially didn’t know the middle one.” Geez, everyone’s a critic!
Here’s the thing, I love Advent. And I love Advent hymns. We sometimes want to rush forward and sing Christmas hymns, but there’s some beautiful Advent music that we can sing together. Don’t worry though, some Christmas hymns will sneak in too. If you ever find that you don’t love the hymns we sing, Kim is pretty much never to blame (and now you know that if you didn’t before). Though in my defense, it’s sometimes good to sing a hymn that’s new to us or even challenging. Or an Advent hymn that has beautiful lyrics like, “Angels, announce with shouts of mirth Christ who brings new life to earth. Set every peak and valley humming with the word, the Lord is coming. People, look east and sing today: Love the Lord is on the way.” (Even if it was a little hard to sing).
Thursday Thoughts 12/2/21
Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash