The Participants of Congregational Singing

The Congregation

Let’s think a bit about the congregation. The congregation is that group of people that has gathered together (congregated) on a Sunday morning (or some other time of the week) to worship God.

Who are these people? They are believers who identify with the message of Christ, who have received that message and have taken their stand on it (1.Corinthians 15:1-11). Of course there may be visitors, friends, and non-believers present also. But when I use the word “congregation” on this site, I have in mind those in the group who make up the body of Christ, the local church, those who have confessed Christ as Lord and Saviour.

Let’s take a closer look at who they might be. Chances are they are from various walks of life. Different nationalities, different ethnic backgrounds, different income levels and age-groups. Some are new Christians, some have been around for a long time. Different levels of maturity are present. Some are healthy, in the prime of life, some are frail and struggling with illnesses of various kinds. And of course one will find various kinds of musical abilities.

Let’s think about that for a minute. Each church is going to be unique in this regard. Some churches will be loaded with musical talent, whereas in other congregations such talent may be hard to find. Some enjoy singing and do it whenever they have the opportunity, for others singing only happens on Sunday morning in church. Some can carry a tune, others can’t. Some have a good memory and can recall songs and hymns from years ago while others will struggle to remember the tune they sang the previous Sunday. Of course there will be a variety of preferences for different styles. Some will like it fast, others slow, some loud, some quiet; some will prefer lots of accompaniment, others will be content with piano or organ, or less. Some will like to sing loudly, while others will feel embarrassed to let anyone hear them sing.

I believe that it is important that those who lead congregational singing are aware of the limitations that may be present in the congregation with respect to musical talent and ability. It would be safe to say, that in most congregations, the skill level of the congregation is lower than that of the praise team members. This should not to be equated with a lower level of enthusiasm. Many of those present may be eager to sing and to praise their Lord in song. It would be discouraging for them to be faced with music that is technically, or rhythmically beyond their skill level. And should this happen week after week, it would soon lead to an automatic shut-down/tune-out response which could be characterized in the words: Let THEM do the singing, I am not good at this.

Praise Teams who care about the congregations they lead will want to see as many participants as possible involved in that beautiful experience of worshiping our God in song. The more people are able to sing the songs, the better. And in this way more enthusiasm will be generated to do it all again the following week. For this to occur, the worship team may need to forgo choosing some of their favourite selections. But this act of selflessness will serve to increase the enthusiasm of the congregation to participate in the singing. And would this not be worth it?




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