The Importance of the Choir in Today’s Church

Imagine that it’s Christmas Eve. You and your family have just finished watching your favorite Christmas movie, donned your festive pj’s, hung your stockings, and shaken all of your presents one last time to venture a guess as to what’s inside. And now, before the children go to sleep, it’s time to read the Christmas story from the book of Luke. You read these familiar passages as your family listens intently. You begin to recall all those childlike images you’ve painted in your head since your Sunday School days. And now it’s the part of the story where the shepherds are keeping watch over their flocks by night…

“And lo, there appeared in the night sky a bearded man in his late twenties with a guitar and thick-rim glasses, and he said unto them, ‘Hey guys, this is a new one – sing along if you know it!’”

And suddenly with him was a man playing a djembe, a bass player, and his wife, who is a pretty good singer.

They sang songs of praise for about 20 minutes, and the younger shepherds really enjoyed it because of how fresh it sounded, and the older shepherds were very confused.”

As you already know, this is not what Luke actually wrote. The real events were much more special, much more otherworldly, and much more impactful on these lowly shepherds. These men were moved by the words of a heavenly choir – a message delivered with the power of a “multitude” of angelic voices, and they quickly went to Bethlehem to see the newborn king.

Now let me pause for a moment and assure you that I am not against the modern worship movement nor am I against praise teams, guitars, or guys with beards. I actually identify very closely with the man I described above (minus the thick rimmmed glasses – God decided to give me great eyesight). Music is a beautiful medium of worship, and we should always be thankful for the people who put the time and energy into preparing and leading our times of corporate worship.

However, it is important to notice the cultural shift that is occurring in many churches today. The scenery is changing, and many traditions that have been held by Christians for hundreds of years have all but disappeared. Our sanctuaries look less like sacred spaces set aside for encounters with God and more like black box theaters or the set of American Idol. Metal scaffolding has replaced the arched columns, simple music stands have replaced lecterns, and the guitar-driven praise team has replaced the choir.

All across the country, schools are cutting music programs entirely, and the modern church is following suit by watering down its music and worship programs because the “choir thing” isn’t relevant anymore. However, for those of us who are crusading to recover, maintain, or restore the time-honored traditions of the Church, the choir is an essential part of the service.

Among the many reasons the choir is vital to the life of any church, consider these three:

  1. The choir is an opportunity for involvement. A church’s ministry is only as effective as the people in its congregation who choose to get involved. Small groups, outreach teams, and the arts have provided great opportunities for congregants to sow into the life of their church’s ministry, and the choir falls under all three of those categories. I’ve often heard the choir referred to as “the church within the church.” When you join a choir, you’re not just singing notes together, you’re doing life and ministry together.

  1. The choir is an extension of the pulpit. There are so many fantastic songs that have been written for the Church and many that have yet to be written. But not all songs are necessarily suitable for corporate worship. There are songs that teach, encourage, compel, and call to action, and the choir is a marvelous mouthpiece for such things. By presenting these kinds of songs, the choir takes on a pastoral role, and it brings a rich dynamic to the theme or message of that particular service. This is especially effective in services with a missional focus or special services like those during Holy Week or the Christmas season.

  1. The choir is a reflection of heaven. The prophet Isaiah gives us a glimpse into God’s throne room with angels singing together, “Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory” (Isaiah 6:3). John paints a similar picture in the book of Revelation. There is a heavenly choir that sings God’s praises for all eternity. When we see our friends and family in the choir loft singing in harmony of voice and spirit, I believe we are momentarily transported (even if only in our minds) to the throne room of heaven. Furthermore, we often see a wide array of ages, ethnicities, and cultural backgrounds on display in the choir. This, too, is a reflection of heaven – God’s people, of every age and every race, worshipping together as one body.

We must not discount the richness the choir brings to the church’s worship experience. I think many would be surprised by the long-lasting effect a choir program can have on their local church. If your church is anything like mine, the choir is a long-held tradition, and traditions enrich the life of the Church. Just because something is thought of as “traditional” doesn’t mean it’s not relevant for the body of Christ today. Let’s strive to keep these traditions alive while moving forward together into a richer and fuller life with Christ!

About the author:
phil nitzPhil Nitz serves as Staff Arranger and Worship Leader at Christ Church Nashville.  Upon earning his Master’s Degree in Church Music from Lee University, Phil began his career in Nashville in 2013 and is quickly becoming a sought-after arranger, orchestrator, and vocalist.  Though he is well-acquainted with many varying styles, both vocal and instrumental, Phil feels most at home leading worship with his guitar in hand or directing the Christ Church Choir. Be sure and check out Phil’s recent release The Hymns Project here!

96 thoughts on “The Importance of the Choir in Today’s Church

  1. Great Thoughts Phil I’ve been preaching for years!!!
    There’s Heavenly power in a dynamic CHOIR

  2. Our re-starting a regular choir rehearsal & performances other than just Christmas & Easter has brought a close bond between the members of the choir as well as the members of our congregation. It really adds to the spirit of the worship service. We lean more towards the hymns in Sunday morning. On Sundsy nights we have a bluegrass band & will begin singing out of Heavenly Highway Hymnals tomorrow. night. Sooooo excited!

    1. Our church has gone to the contemporary forum and frankly I cannot stand the guitar plunking and repeated chores’ that pass for worship music. The hymns we know have worship as a center of the words and music, today’s one-man show highlights that one man.

      1. Donna, Donna, Donna, Surely you know that Worship is what’s going on in your heart. I wish you could experience worship in the different cultures of our world. It is Sweet, Pure and sometimes all they have are two hollow sticks that they beat together.

        1. I tend to agree with Donna… Some stages of the churches today resemble the concerts @ Coachella rather than worship in the church sanctuary… The worship leaders microphone is so HOT that you can’t hear the rest of the worship team singing, nor the congregation, and even yourself singing …. Just Sayin’ !

    2. Though Sharon’s remark “. . . surely you know that worship is what goes on in your heart.” is true, I totally agree with Donna about the fact that repeating one chorus over and over as someone plunks a guitar is not my idea of true worship music. I grew up with organs, pianos and hymnals and don’t feel like it’s ‘worship service’ without them. Maybe that’s why I am in the choir loft wearing a robe on Sunday.

      1. I fully agree with you, Karen, and with Sharon who posted earlier. I grew up in the church and stayed actively involved for 49 years; taught Sunday School for 14 years, served as an Elder for 20, sang in the choir for 10 or so. Unfortunately, my church has chosen to “dumb down” worship so that the focus is on the pastor, the choir disintegrated, and the guitar strumming has become routine. After trying valiantly to be positive and maintain some tradition, I gave up and walked out. For the past three years I’ve gone to church on Christmas Eve and Easter and found hardly anything left that I recognized. In the future I’ll drive 40 miles out of town to a service I feel is appropriately focused or I’ll just not attend. Thankfully, there are some services online that are quite lovely.

  3. Phil, it is so refreshing & encoraging to hear someone from the younger generation, as yourself, see the need for churches to still have choirs. Your article was spot on. Blessings, Carolyn Williams

    1. Amen …. even though churches are changing to please “the younger crowd” by making the church look like a night club instead of reverence for the Lord, I feel it will reverse itself in time … just probably not in time for me to see it. How sad our young people don’t enjoy the precious old hymns that have such meaning to us!

  4. All of your points are valid and I hope worship leaders everywhere will read and heed. However, no where does the Bible teach that Angels sing. Our Christmas carols erroneously teach that, but the Bible never does. Read the text that you quoted carefully. Angels always speak praise, NEVER SING. I’m not saying that they don’t sing, the Bible just never says that they do. Only humans have been give the privilege of singing praise. The Angels must look on with amazement when we don’t. My guess is they would love to have the privilege that only we have been given.

    1. I haven’t searched the scriptures to validate your comments, however, I do know that during King David’s reign, God instructed him to delegate the musicians, as a matter of fact there were 288 singers II Chronicles 25:7. as matter of fact that entire chapter is regarding the musicians that were to praise the Lord. Why do we have singing in our DNA? I thought everything was supposed to praise the Lord?

    2. I erroneously replied a few moments ago siting II Chronicles for my position on singing…however, it is I Chronicles 25:7, and actually it doesn’t say singers, it is just musicians, but I still ask the question, why do we have singing voices if everything is supposed to praise the Lord. Sorry for the misquote. Still believe we are to sing to the glory of God.

    3. Thanks for that comment Gary. Though I agree with Phil’s position and points, I too had a concern with the loose use of scripture. As you stated, the angels are said to “say” not “sing”. To Dorothy who commented on your post I would say that singing isn’t the only way to praise the Lord. Proclamation is also very effective and often stirs my soul more than singing.

  5. This is so right on!!! An awesome publication to pass around to the church around the world.

  6. I grew up in the most wonderful church choir program at Ingleside Baptist Church in Shreveport, La. I was under the leadership of Martha Clancy who started the graded choir program. What a blessing she was. We truly learned every aspect of music. I can even direct music! I do not care for praise teams because they leave the congregation and choir out of the worship moment. Why do people think hymns are not songs of praise? They are beautiful songs of praise and so meaningful.

    1. What a rewarding pleasure to read names that are familiar to me after so many years of being away from Shreveport. I knew of Ingleside and Martha Clancy. I graduated from Byrd High School in 1953.

  7. Great article! Thanks for posting and I look forward to attending Christ Church again when I’m in Nashville.

  8. Thank you for a great article. I concur with it all. Being a former vocal music teacher, I am saddened that so many schools are stopping the vocal program in the elementary. Therefore there is no feed into middle or high school. In my own area, it stops after 4th grade and what was once a huge program has now become nothing all the way through the high school.

  9. I’m an old geezer and I’m with much of what is said here. Our Church has an early (8:30) and regular (11 AM) service and in between, at 9:30 a rather younger contemporary style music service but still with the same message preaching service. I say this… that middle service is growing very large but our traditional service with beautiful sounds is a beauty to hear and behold.

  10. Amen….my husband and I have been in choir for me 35 years and for him 32. He passed away last summer just 3-1/2 months after our youngest daughter, hers a rare cancer and his prostate cancer. She left a husband and two little girls 6 and 9 in just 5-1/2 months. The shock was overwhelming even as a Christian, but I was back in two choirs at church by late September. I needed the friends, the music and sense of peace that I would be with them again. As I sang and hopefully nourished someone else’s soul I was nourished myself.

  11. I would like to say a hearty “Amen” to all I just read. I am a choir director in church and school and have felt the squeeze in both places. I will continue to advocate the importance of choir, and mist of your points help.

    I have a theological question for you, though: Do angels sing? In every case in the Bible, I read “The angel said ..” It’s a point to ponder. Makes me glad God made humans able to sing.

    1. Teresa, I just read your message after having written the same thing about angels speaking their thoughts and mankind being blessed with the gift of singing! So few people realize this great truth! Glad to see that I’m not alone in this realization! God bless!

  12. I’m so happy to read these positive words about having a choir, not as opposed to a worship team, but the team included as part of the worship experience along with the choir, as in my church. Those who have been involved in choirs all their lives, and found that is their place of service have found themselves ousted with no area of service for them. How sad. The most beautiful music I have heard were choirs of various kinds, but mostly church choirs all over the world. Thanks,

  13. Love a traditional church choir. I grew up singing in one at our Baptist church. Many times I’m just as moved by the song as I am by the sermon.

  14. Thank you Phil for this excellent article on the importance of choir ministry in our churches. My husband is pastor of Bethany Baptist Church in Bolingbroke, GA and my son is minister of music. We planted Bethany in 2001. Our choir continues to be a vibrant part of our worship service each Sunday leading the congregation to the throne room. Thank you for encouraging churches to continue choir ministry. The bond that choir members make as we prepare and the power that we experience as the Holy Spirit uses us is so precious. There is power in corporate prayer as well as power in corporate praise.

  15. Amen and amen. I miss the choir in our new church plant. I would love to see a choir of any size leading worship once in a while.

  16. I agree wholeheartedly. We’re trying too hard to please the younger people, when we should be teaching them the hymns that we learned in our youth. New songs are great but we need to keep the old.

    1. SMH. Just….NO. Stop blaming ‘the younger people’.
      WHY did I read this thread? I knew it would made me feel sad and conclude that so many people MISS it, and get caught up on such trivial matters. Could you IMAGINE Jesus chiding His followers because someone didn’t like the same music songs He did? So gross. We all need to grow up.

  17. Nothing like the sound of a ministering choir when their voices and spirits become one and glory fills the house of God! Great article Phil! I wholeheartedly agree!

  18. A Layperson’s Support for the Choir
    This is so true. The choir and the organ transforms the church sanctuary into a Holy place for many of us. The great choral rendition of the Magnificat or Handel’s Messiah brings me into the glory of what I believe is one day to become my Heavenly home.
    While there may be a place and a time for a “Praise Team and Praise Band”, in my heart and mind it is not in the Church Sanctuary, and not on Sunday morning.
    Church congregations and Church Choirs do not sing “songs”; they sing “hymns”. Also, Choirs do not perform, rather they share their gifts with the congregation to the Glory of God. This leads to the issue of applause following an Anthem by the Choir. In my mind, this represents a response to entertainment. I have heard others characterize applause as reaction of the congregation to “God’s Glory” as represented by the work of the Choir. This seems to be a stretch to cover an inappropriate behavior, but perhaps I just can’t get my head around that concept.

    1. I need to add here in what appears to be a hotbed of Baptists that I am an elder in the Presbyterian Church (USA), the most progressive/liberal branches of Presbyterianism. Many PC (USA) churches have gone to the early service “contemporary” approach and the 11:00, or in some cases 10:30, “traditional” service. I personally see this approach to lack integrity in that it fails to give the congregation a clear message as to what “worship” should be. The “contemporary service is typically a marketing tool designed to bring in “younger families with children”. Churches seem to me to be unique institutions not seeking to draw people to it by providing a “product” people desire, but rather drawing people to seek the truths of God’s timeless message of openness, hope, and the mysterious act of salvation.
      Churches mustn’t be caught up in the world’s way of seeking to make itself so attractive as to bringing people who want their ears tickled, or to experience God through a production. The broken body of Christ, the centrality of the Gospel, is not in any way attractive, yet we who would call ourselves Christian are called to pick up our own crosses and follow Jesus, implicitly into our own suffering for the Kingdom of God.

      1. I’m not Baptist…or Presbyterian!!! But I agree with a lot you said! Should our churches be “marketing” the “old, old story” by categories of “contemporary” or “traditional”? Shouldn’t we just be worshipping…all together…not with one way leaving out the other…

  19. I am blessed to be a member of the choir in my church. We love to sing almost all types of music and try to incorporate them into our services. This way we make everyone happy. I agree with everything that the author of this article said. But I feel that no matter what type of church people attend and what type of service they have, the important thing is the relationship the people have with GOD. We have times that the congregation feels moved to applaud after a particular song or anthem especially when it includes a child or a special song or cantata. I believe that the people have been “moved” by the gift of music. It doesn’t happen often or regularly. In these cases, I don’t find it inappropriate but would if it happened every Sunday.

  20. Thank you for a wonderful article that expresses what I feel. We no longer have a choir in our church. I have been singing in numerous choirs since I was in Jr. High! That is a big part of my worship. I do not care for the choruses that are repeated over and over. I keep praying this phase will pass! In the meantime, I may just walk down the street to another church.

  21. I grew up in a big church. We had several choirs from the cherubs on up to the Sanctuary choir. I was proud when I finally made it to the big choir. We sang Brahms Requiem and Handel’s Messiah. I miss the choirs plus it was great musical training.

  22. I listen to the Mormon Tabernacle Choir on you tube Then I join in as Alto or Tenor. My parents met at church. my Dad was in the choir.

  23. I will share this with my choir; however, I will continue to explain that angels do worship corporately but not with singing! There is no reference to angels singing recorded anywhere in Scripture. They SAY their thoughts! What a wonderful thing that God has given the gift of singing to mankind for corporate worship!

  24. It is not important to bring the cultural preferences of the world into the sanctuary. Our culture is the culture of Jesus Christ – that includes old hymns and new hymns and choruses. All should be included so all of us can grow together. The younger worshippers can learn to appreciate the music of saints past. It is equally important for others to embrace “current” songs of praise and worship. The worship leader’s job is to sift new music and find the best of “what’s new”. It’s the culture of Jesus Christ that we are part of – first and foremost. I love songs from every era and I find that it blesses me to sing the songs of the saints that have gone before me and share my same hopes, dreams, and struggles – no matter what language or musical style they wrote in. BTW – I’m nearly 70 and love to worship.

  25. I would like permission to print a portion of this for our church newsletter. I don’t have space for the whole column, but I would love to pick it up at “among the many reasons the choir is important to the life of the church …” Timely message!

  26. Great article! Thanks for reminding us and encouraging us to keep doing what we do! I love the closeness that a choir brings. One of the greatest challenges today in our area of the country is commitment. We as leaders have to let the people know why we do what we do, and remind them constantly. I believe part of our “job” is to love, encourage and challenge those whom the Lord has placed under us. Looking forward to another great Sunday!

  27. Thank you Phil for your words of wisdom!
    I love choir and the songs we sing are so worshipfull
    They are songs that stay on your heart and mind all week
    We did not have a choir for many years and my husband and I have started a senior choir again. The people love the music
    We sing old gospel and hymns that have a great message
    We need to keep the hymns before the young people or
    They will never know them
    Pray we will be able to keep our going
    Chris HOWELL

    1. A lot of the new music that our youth listen to are rich in theology, and some of them have remade some of those old hymns. I LOVE so many of the new choruses that have made my song fresh, with the same message as is found in hymns. Our salvation, thankfully, is NOT found in whether I know the lyrics to Great is Thy Faithfulness, Come Thou Fount, or Standing on the Promises of God.

  28. I thank you for this well written article and all the comments presented. Although I believe it is important to blend old and new, I also believe hymns should be part of every service. It is part of our church history and children are not learning that history. Imagine there are many children who do not know “Jesus Loves Me” and “Away in the Manger.” Our Church tries to introduce one new praise song a month, but even the youth do not want to sing it.
    They do want to play drums and bang away at it, but choose not to sing. It is very sad, but I do think part of it is the result of the “me” generation and to not teach responsibility and respect by both parents and leaders. Thank you again for your words and I pray that God will find away to help lead us to the worship and praise for the Grace H
    e has given.

  29. GREAT words Phil! I’ve been watching churches dumb down their worship for years now. I’m not against what is happening now, but to throw away all that the choir is and does for something that is “easier” is a huge mistake. That you for a well written and thoughtful article!

  30. Thank you for your article. I love to keep learning from my brothers and sisters in Christ. This issue of Traditional and Contemporary will probably always be with us; if not we would all still be chanting as in early, early years (so I am told. I was the choir director for a couple of decades. The Lord always told me which music to choose and what drama (if any) he wanted me to direct. I feel soooo blessed to be used by God in this way. I knew when it was time to ‘pass the baton’ when I was listening to the music demos and I heard nothing from Him, but He spoke to my daughter, who was the assistant choir director, and gave her the cantata and the drama as He wanted it presented. I feel that if we continue to listen for God to speak to us with His vision He will continue to speak to HIS congregation through it. BTW, Thanks to all those that opened my eyes to angels and singing issue. Now I feel doubly blessed to sing. (Have you ever thought about it is not mentioned in the Bible that angels have wings – but it is sung that way.)
    In His Service,
    Helen Horvath

  31. I agree that what you’ve stated here CAN be true. You said

    “Just because something is thought of as “traditional” doesn’t mean it’s not relevant for the body of Christ today. Let’s strive to keep these traditions alive while moving forward together into a richer and fuller life with Christ!”

    I’d also suggest that just because something IS tradition means that you have to keep it going to keep a richer, fuller life with Christ. Sometimes that actually is accomplished by ending something that is no longer relevant. I realize there are likely a lot of southern American folks writing here. I’m in a much different place than that, and our church reflects that. Opportunities for people to sing in choir become necessities for me to attempt to cajole, convince & sweet-talk people who really enjoy it once they’re there, but really don’t want to put a regular effort in.
    So it’s frustrating reading this today.
    For the record, I have also been in choir most of my life, and truly love leading a choir that loves to be there.
    But true community can STILL happen without a choir. Forcing something is NOT relevant.
    Just my nickel of thoughts.

  32. As a pastor and singer, I find it necessary to share what God has shown me. If it honors and glorifies God then it belongs in the church. What I have found is it has become all about preference. In my opinion(and that’s all it is, my opinion) preference is self seeking . Whether it is choral music or a praise team shouldn’t matter. God inhabitants the praise of His people. Which ever way you “prefer”… Worship Him! He alone is worthy of praise! ( by the way I’ve been singing in choirs 30+ years and in a worship team as well) Worship starts within us and comes out from us.

  33. Thank you for this. Yes, it is so true, and sad that we are losing our choirs. While I too enjoy the new praise songs, I feel it is important to expose our children & grandkids to our traditional hymns. We recently moved from Houston and a beautiful choir (OK…Second Baptist North, one of the best, I think!). When we moved to the Dallas area, we visited MANY churches, before finding one with a choir. I’m thankful for the churches that still feel this is important – thankful now for Prestonwood, thankful enough to make the 40 minute drive several times a week.

  34. I thought that this article very concisely provided three major strengths for choral ministry in the local church of today! I think that a struggle for many in relation to choral ministry is adapting to a particular local church. There was a time that the choir was considered irrelevant among some churches, but in its absence, the need became apparent. Even the most cutting edge worship artists are emulating a choir in several ways whether it be dense layers of vocal tracks or a large “collective” of musicians and singers. I am so thankful for my choir and their powerful addition to our worship services!

  35. I concur Phil. Although choirs may not be relevant/appropriate in every church, they are still vital to corporate worship in the 21st century (and for all the reasons you described). Great seeing you continue developing and using the gifts God’s given.

  36. So your main point about heavenly choirs… The bible never says they are singing choirs. In fact, Angels never sing in the bible. They speak and the proclaim or maybe shout. Also, just as we shouldn’t dismiss a tradition because its traditional, we also shouldn’t use it just because its traditional.

    All that being said, I don’t hate choirs or anything. To me it’s a preference thing or dependent on the culture, and even ethnicity of the church. You wouldn’t give this article to a different culture or people group, expecting that they too should have a choir right? There’s no evidence of any of the first Christians using choirs.
    There is evidence of choirs in the Old Testament I believe, among the Israelites. There may good biblical support for this argument there.

  37. I agree with much of what has been offered in response to the article. No, that doesn’t mean that I don’t know what I think. Most, if not all, offer valid points of reference from their own belief or experience. There was one point made that caught my attention, one that I have heard in my own church as well. Some people don’t like singing the same lines repeatedly. I am one of those people, unless what is repeated is scripture and is being sung is repeated to gain attention of the listener or the singer. A lot of people don’t like or prefer contemporary praise music for that reason alone. Even Jesus and writers in the Bible repeated lines to get attention and make a point. For those of you who are old hymn lovers (of which I am one) have you never sung a hymn with 4 or 5 verses, all followed by the same chorus? In a lot of cases, instead of complaining about singing the same line over again, just maybe we should listen to the words we are singing and let them be our worship. My guess is there would be much less complaining. I have been in choirs all my 66+ years and I love choirs. I also love praise teams and I’m pretty sure I can live with both. I appreciate the opportunity to weigh in on a very valid topic.

  38. I would just like to add that in the eyes and ears of some, there hasn’t been a legitimate hymn, hymn song or anthem written since the 1800’s. That can only mean that there are some brilliant contemporary writers and their work being ignored. I am grateful for these young writers and arrangers providing fresh material for us today.

  39. Thank you for this well written article. I’ve been preaching this truth for years. Yes, I, too, use and enjoy contemporary music, blended in with the traditional. But my question has always been: What do you think will happen when you see Jesus? Will you jump up, throw up your hands and start shouting, or will we fall on our face in humble praise of the Holy Savior?

  40. I am a vocalist. I’ve sang with symphonies, college chorales, and numerous church choirs through the years. Choir singing is my favorite way to SING, not worship. I may be in the minority, but my favorite way to worship is with guitar and piano, with modern worship music. This all really comes to down to personal preference. I can’t stand it when people try to say a certain worship style is better than another. It really and truly is personal preference, not an eternal issue.

  41. Amen! and Amen! Definitely shared this! When the music “died” it became very difficult to tell the difference between secular and worship music…and other than the lack of beverages, it is quite difficult to tell the difference between a sanctuary and a bar!

    Even the “dress code” went downhill with the music ▬ although there has NEVER been a “dress code” ▬ looks more like going to a 24/7 convenience store after a day working in the yard… shorts/boobs/butt cheeks do NOT belong in the sanctuary!


    Bring back R-E-S-P-E-C-T for GOD’s house!

  42. AMEN! If you are ever in or near Stuart, Fl., Please come to meet our Music Minister and choir director, Tom Green, and Yewn Lou Kumpf. As a choir member, I appreciate what you have to say about the relevance of choir in church ministry today. We hope the opportunity to meet you someday at First United Methodist Church of Stuart.

  43. Just one point, which is virtually irrelevant I suppose to the actual point of this article. But I would like to note that in most instances and translations, the scriptures don’t actually describe the angels as singing. In all three scriptures listed here, they are described as saying, or calling out. Rare does it actually mention “singing”. At least in most translations I have checked. I have not studied the original language and its meaning as of yet so I could be off base here. (If I am, feel free to cite sources so I can study further) but its always been something of interest to me that rare does the scripture mention angels actually singing. I claim no special insight into the heavenly realms, but I have often wondered if we’ve had the wrong idea about angels and singing. I wonder if maybe music is a gift for humans more than it is for angels. Just some thoughts I’ve had.

  44. So true…God help us. As a minister of worship and the arts for over 50 years, at one time in a 10,000 member church, I have learned that nothing is so wonderful as an anointed choir…people who love each other..who rehearse together…who pray together…who sing together…who worship God in Spirit and Truth. Thank God for every hour volunteers have spent preparing choral music to the glory of God.

  45. Excellent article. Having served about 60 years as a church organist I am dismayed to see that many new churches do not even have an organ, let alone a traditional pipe organ. Classical sacred music seems to be cast aside by many churches in favor of informal settings.. Extremely casual dress and conduct and the noisy praise bands. So be it for many young people but there is certainly something to be said for a traditional offering of worship to God.

  46. Phil
    Thanks for the post. I hope its an eye-opener to many, a choir can be a huge missed opportunity.
    But every church is different! 44 years in ministry certainly has shown me that, and for that reason alone you make a big assumption. You are right in sharing the 3 things that can be vital, however they can also be devastating.
    Having served in a church who paid singers to be in the choir was a train wreck without their being involved in any other part of the church.
    While the choir can be an extention of the pulpit, many times it is not simply over the lack of planning, a cooperative spirit(egos), conflicting views of worship, or conflict over who has final say as to service content.
    The choir, just as an individual believer, is called to be a reflection of heaven. Yet many times choir member(s) neglect or worse negate, this happening by publicly displayed attitude facial expression, or non-participation on particular selections. That “harmony of spirit rather than voice” many times is the much tougher assignment to get the choir to be a heavenly reflection.
    Lastly, churches have “all” kinds of “traditions”, and in my best southern accent, “They ain’t all good!”

  47. Much appreciated article and well done! I might add that because many churches have discarded or greatly minimized the value of choir, community choirs are on an upswing both in the States as well as the U.K. Churches, wake up…

  48. What a wonderfully well-written article. I go to bed with Christ Church Choir singing in my head and often wake up to a different song of theirs or an old hymn. It has changed my life. I’ve been attending there since August 2015 and for years, my soul has longed for traditional music and hymns. I do feel at times I have transcended into the glory of Heaven when the choir and congregation is singing. I think just as much as the choir, at our church I love that you can hear the congregation singing along. Unfortunately many churches today do not realize that the songs they sing are not easily followed by the congregation so their perfectly performed praise and worship becomes just that – a performance. When the focus is taken off the singers and onto the words being sung and all our voices joined together, it is what true worship should sound like, in my opinion. I’m so glad to see someone your age, Phil, standing up for traditionalism in the church. We need more of this. I’ve taught my daughter all the old hymns because the church we attended all her life did not sing them. I’ve taught her “Power In the Blood,” “Are You Washed In The Blood” and “Amazing Grace.” Every Christian should know these songs for times when our soul needs uplifting and refreshing. Thank you for your excellent service at CCN!

  49. I sing in the choir at our church (Tree of Life) Lynchburg,Va. I agree that the choir does set the worship athmaspher for the service. Some Sunday’s we do not have a choir and it does make a difference.

    Someone said something about the youth and their music in the church today. I find nothing wrong with the music our youth sing. Sure it’s not the old fashion songs like we used to sing, however, it is helping to get our youth closer to God and we have an awesome youth groups that pretitapates in our conferences youth church contest. We had 15 to place in the top 3 this year and some invited back to go for the Nationals.

    we have Great leaders here. Choir director, Praise team, youth ministers, and our NUMBER 1 Leader is our Pastor.

  50. I’ve been in church-based music ministry for over 30 years now. While it’s a thought that has been blogged about before this article has a weak premise, in my not so humble opinion. 🙂

    I’m with Paul, be ‘all things to all people’. If your worship dictates contemporary, then go with a band. When you try to force a choir into a contemporary band-driven worship environment, it’s a disaster and the choir is not well utilized. I’d rather have no choir than choir done poorly, which I’ve seen in many places.

    I’ve seen way too many ‘contemporary worship guys’ who do choir poorly. No choral technique, no conducting technique, no previous choir experience. They try to run choir like they run a praise team vocal group and you CAN’T.

    I’ve also been in churches with marvelous choral programs and those guys do not have the skill set to operate a contemporary group.

    So I say, decide who want to be and unless you are skilled to do both; pick one.

  51. I echo your sentiments. Another thing that is disappearing is the youth choir from which adult choir members are formed. Even children’s choir programs are disappearing for church activities. They are often condensed to a 15 min time slot in another Wed. night activity. I feel the demise of the children’s choir programs is a result of too many extra curricular activities that the children are involved in, which still being good get priority status. Some churches still have children’s choir programs and the children love to sing. But then when they get into middle school there is no choir for them thus begins the demise of the future adult choir.

    1. DEFINITELY! At the church where I’m the music director we work together with the minister to choose all music that goes with the message that the minister is delivering!

  52. This article is spot on. I have been in music ministry since 1973. The changes in worship music have been many.
    The Choir has been destroyed in most churches. It is very hard to worship in song today. I am 60 years old and don’t believe God is through with me in the music ministry. Surely there is a church that would like a choir somewhere in Tennessee.

  53. Do any choirs still perform cantatas at Christmas or Easter? My pastor (who is not into music, doesn’t understand or know where cantatas came from, much ,ess why choirs do them) feels that cantatas performed on holiday services prevent visitors from witnessing an actual worship service. He is reading a lot about church growth and has researched this. While he does not agree with everything hes reading, unfortunately this is one he is leaning toward. I have been a choir director for almost 30 years. I have my choir sing a cantata on Christmas and Easter. Our Christmas cantata is sometimes done on a Sunday evening or Christmas Eve. However, this year he has broken our cantata into theee services including Palm Sunday, Good Friday and Easter. While other cantatas we have done could fit this model, this cantata does not. God has given me visons for what would be an awesome drama during the cantata. I feel I am being disobedient not sharing what God has given me. And how far should a pastor go with his involvement with the music ministry….when do you rely on those that you have entrusted their positions?

  54. Wow. I see a lot of entitled saints in the comment section here…supporting an opinion backed by twisting scripture.
    What about the passage in Acts 16, where Paul and Silas worshipped with prayer and singing. There were just two of them. Others listened in, and to their wonder and delight, their shackles fell off.

    Imagine if they started to gripe, and write letters back and forth to one another about this injustices of not having a choir to praise God along with them, instead of choosing to praise and worship and pray in the troubled times.
    I’m actually grieved greatly by this divide.

  55. Great article, Phil! Love The Christ Church Choir!
    Nothing will take the place of a Choir!
    Merry 💜

  56. Amen. The life long community and family my choirs have built over the years has been and continues to be relevant in every imaginable facet of life. I wish the traditions of the church were appreciated and exercised more often instead of pushed aside. I’m not saying one is better than the other, I wish musicians could learn to appreciate each other and support each other not by words but by participating.

  57. I love a choir. As a pastor, I would rather have a choir than not have one. But…
    Choirs, like praise teams and “rock bands,” can become all about performance if the director, leadership, and choir members are not careful to be intentional in making sure the choir is used to lead in worship instead of falling into the act of (what one worship leader phrased) “worship-tainment.” I have been in churches where there are folks who criticize modern churches as “rock concerts” and who think such churches’ attendees “just go to be entertained.” These self-appointed critics of worship-styles are the same folks who follow southern gospel quartets around the nation as well as the ones who complain that “if the choir didn’t sing a special music piece, I just haven’t been to worship.” We do not gather together for worship in order to observe a performance, whether it comes via a band or a choir. We gather together to worship together. I love to be led in worship by a choir; however, to me, the most beautiful choir is when the entire congregation is singing together, not just a smaller group of people singing to a larger group of people.

  58. Hi Phil! Glad to see my Lee classmate telling it like it is and encouraging those in music ministry. Great article. Thank you!

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