The Case for a Choir, Pt. 2

Hymn Transitions and Modulations

The revitalization of hymnody can also be furthered through the sparing use of appropriate choral transitions. The sweep and grandeur of a great hymn can be magnified through a powerful modulating choral/organ interlude into the final verse.

Hymn Descants

Similarly, the use of a soaring soprano descant on the final verse of a hymn can add to its expressive force and emotional impact.

Unfamiliar Songs

The choir can add to the thematic development of a service by singing a song (hymn, chorus or whatever) that fits the theme particularly well, but that the congregation simply does not know. This allows for the inclusion of some great texts which might not otherwise be usable. (Sometimes, another option with an unfamiliar hymn would be to pair the text with a more familiar tune of the same meter, using the metrical index found in most hymnals.

Teaching New Songs

This technique is often used, and very effectively: The choir sings a new song (hymn, chorus, etc.) for the congregation and, if it is simple enough, the people may join in the second or third time. For more difficult songs, it may be advisable to let the choir sing it for a Sunday or two before the congregation takes it on.

Other Aspects of the Choir’s Ministry

True Worship Leadership

It is important that choir members understand their role as one of ministry rather than performance. They are first and foremost offering up a gift to God, and then (and only then) to the congregation. Their sacrifices of praise must come from a willing and committed heart if they are to be acceptable worship (Ps. 4:4-5; 51:17). They must have an attitude of service, striving to give of their best energies and abilities for their God.

Choir members must also see that they are in positions of leadership, with all the conditions, cautions and blessings which accompany spiritual leadership. Their director and their pastor should openly and regularly affirm them and seek to instill esteem for their ministry on the part of the congregation.

Group leadership of worship also releases the worship leader/choir director from being the sole point person, with all the accompanying dangers: succumbing to the “star syndrome,” perceiving the need to be strongly extroverted, feeling that he must make worship “happen.” He can (indeed, should) function as a facilitator, for the choir as well as for the congregation; however, he can allow the choir to lead, thus taking some focus off himself and hopefully receding into the background, as the people look to the God Whom they are worshiping.

To further dissipate focus on individuals, which can distract worshipers from giving their full attention to God, any soloists used can always wear robes and sit (and stand) with the choir.

Previous articleSometimes the Church Is Considerate in Inconsiderate Ways
Next articleFree Kids Christmas Series: "Presence"'
Ron Man studied music at the University of Maryland (B.M. in Theory & Composition, 1974; M.M. in Conducting, 1975). After coming to Christ in March 1975, he did an additional year of conducting study at the State Music Academy in Munich, Germany, then attended Dallas Theological Seminary, receiving a Th.M. degree in 1982. From 1983-88 Ron was on the pastoral staff of the International Chapel in Vienna, Austria. Then from 1988-2000 he served as Pastor of Worship and Music at First Evangelical Church in Memphis, Tennessee. Since August 2000 he and his family have been living in Germany, where Ron serves as director of the department of Worship and Creative Arts for Greater Europe Mission; his primary focus is to travel and teach on the biblical and theological foundations of worship at schools and churches in various countries in Eastern and Western Europe, including (so far) Hungary, Poland, Ukraine, Holland and Germany. Ron has published both popular and academic articles in such publications as Worship Leader, Creator, Church Musician Today, Reformation and Revival Journal, and Bibliotheca Sacra. All of these articles may be accessed at