The music says it all


On Friday I learned an astonishing fact. Apparently, our choir leader (who, by the way, is a really nice person and an amazing musician) refuses to let us sing in Latin (and they’d prefer not to sing any language other than English, really). Coming from a Catholic background, this kind of thinking is utterly foreign to me. Because it is not, that our choir leader doesn’t like singing in a foreign language; it is, that from a Protestant point of view it is apparently important that the congregation understands everything without a problem, even if it is sung by the choir only (like a communion anthem). So, I started thinking about it. Is it a good thing if the congregation knows what’s going on and can follow the service? Certainly! If you’ve ever been to a service, where you did not speak the language (I have been to an English one when I didn’t really speak it yet, a Latin and a Spanish one) you know that you are really lost and that it is really, really hard to find any kind of connection even if you know what’s going on. So, yes, I am very happy, that all of the prayers, blessings and many of the songs/ hymns we sing are in English. (Or, in my home village in Germany, in German). But. But, because I like singing in another language. But, because singing in another language opens the way to new and exciting music and rhythms. But, because it reminds us that we are not just the Church of England but also the Church of Christ which is everywhere and in every country. God is worshipped in many languages. If you want the congregation to know what you are singing; why not tell them? It’s how it works in Taize, for example. And yes, anything the congregation joins in with, you want to make easily understandable and pronouncable (pronunciation is not to be taken lightly!) but what if the choir is singing all by themselves? I honestly don’t think that most people actually listen to the words; they listen to the sound and how it all goes together. So if it was in a different language than usual, hey would notice and then enjoy the music. Singing African songs in their original language is one of the most spiritual experiences I have ever had – and I didn’t really know every word but only had a general sense of what they meant. The text wasn’t that important. The music said it all.


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Filed under Community, Music

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