Cuthbert United Methodist Church
Tuesday, October 23, 2018

CHOIR CALLS AND ANTHEMS

 The most important act of the choir is to serve as worship leaders, especially through the sung portions of our worship.  Hopefully, their strong, heartfelt singing/leading emboldens everyone to sing easily and to focus their hearts on the meanings in the hymn texts or liturgy.  
 
The choir also presents three special pieces each week that connect the theme of the day, scripture, or season, to acts of praise or prayer.  At the beginning of the service, we hear the “Choral Introit”  (root word: Latin, introire - entrance; go in)  Though we don’t climb a hill to worship in the Temple anymore, in a way, the Introit invites, “Let us go into the house of the Lord.”  This short piece, often a verse of a hymn or a chorus, is chosen to focus us all on the worship of God, with a “first word” that highlights the theme or summons us to praise.  The “Call to Prayer,” another short statement, ushers us further in to the throne room, that we might offer our prayers and petitions to God.  It’s sometimes hard to step out of our earthly cares into sacred space.  These two choral “Calls” are encouragement to enter holy ground.  
 
The Choir’s anthem, usually shared during the Offertory, lead us in one of three directions.  First, it directs us UP - an act of praise and worship, lifting God’s name up and giving God glory.  (“God, You are…”)  Second, it can lead us DOWN – a musical “kneeling in prayer,” in which the anthem asks for God’s help, comfort or consecration. (“O God, hear our prayer…”)  Third, it can speak OUT – and into our lives, with a proclamation of God’s word.  (“Listen, my people…”)   Anthems can be wonderful in that they add to the beauty and meaning of scripture texts through a new dimension, music.  It is also one of the ways that we, through the Holy Spirit, experience “living Word,” as original texts are shared that are not literal scripture settings, but rather, are inspired words of Christians through the ages, and even today.   Did you know that at one time, the ONLY text allowed in worship was strictly scripture? Our founders, John and Charles Wesley, were among the innovators who fought to open the windows to the Holy Spirit’s Word for today, by writing and encouraging the use of new, contemporary texts.  
 
This month, as you listen to the choir’s songs, let them help lead you into God’s presence. See if their “Calls” can help you focus more intently on worship and prayer.   During the anthem, “join the choir” by attending to the words and the beauty and meaning brought through the musical setting, and let your souls go UP in praise, DOWN in prayer, or OUT,  as you hear and respond to God’s Word.