Rarely does anyone ask me about the most difficult tasks of a church music director. It may surprise you, but preparing the music for Sunday morning is one of the simplest responsibilities of the music director. We study for years to earn college degrees that give us the technical skills to play the music for the services including a prelude, offertory, postlude, anthem and solo accompaniments. What we are not taught in academic studies is how to select anthems that will satisfy all the various expectations for the service. Of course, the pastor seeks music that enhances the liturgy of the day, and this is always our top priority, but there are scriptures for many services for which there are not available anthems.
So many other factors must be considered. What music are our singers able to sing? What do you sing when our soprano and alto sections need additional singers? Who is available to sing a solo, play an instrument, participate in an ensemble? What music does the congregation like? And, musical tastes today are very diverse. People like classical church repertoire from many centuries. Others enjoy gospel, some country, some fast, some slow, and the list is as long as the number of people.
When selecting music, I also strive to include repertoire that represents our Presbyterian traditions of the past several hundred years. We are so lucky to have the Glory to God Hymnal. This amazing resource has an extremely diverse collection of hymns and songs and abounds with excellent repertoire from this twenty-first century. One of the most useful parts of this new hymnal is at the end of the book, wonderful indices so critically important to the pastor and music director.
As always, I invite your suggestions. What selections helps enhance your worship of God? And remember, that our music is only as good as the people who help. Come sing in the choir and discover a whole new dimension to worship services.
Soli Deo Gloria, --Jack