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Music in Worship
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Just this week I received thanks for various pieces of music in the worship service, from the Mozart vocal solo to the choir anthem of “River of Judea” to the organ gathering music selection.  When the handbells played “Dona Nobis Pacem” for worship when the bishop was with us, one person was very moved  because it was her favorite song.  Selections played or sung for memorial services bring many comments about about how they help people think about the person whose life is being honored.

One week, a few years ago, I played a new arrangement of “Jacob’s Ladder”.  One member of the congregation was moved to tears, and had me play it several more times just for her.  There is the famous Widor “Toccata” that thrills many whenever they hear it.   Some love Bach, others love “Amazing Grace”.  Music can reach to a level of emotional connection that  defies definition.  
I love talking with people about their musical preferences, and try to incorporate a wide variety of music in worship.  Sometimes there is a song that perfectly fits with the scripture and message of the morning, and that ties it all together for a lot of people.
Sometimes it is a selection that brings back one specific memory, like the day the closing hymn was “Onward Christian Soldiers” and it brought me to such a strong remembrance of my own father that I could barely play it through my tears.
This blog could include enough anecdotes to fill a book, because in 50 years of  church music, week in and week out, somebody has been touched by the music.
My personal favorites change,  because sometimes worship is exuberant, and other times it is contemplative.  Samuel Barber’s organ arrangement of his “Adagio for Strings” is the ultimate in contemplative instrumental music, and Diane Bish’s arrangement of “Joyful, Joyful” is just the opposite.  There is a place for all of this in worship!   I appreciate the conversations you have with me, and will always listen and try to bring good quality music to the worship experience.
Karen Stoody, Organist & Associate Director of Music Ministries

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