“Choirs Bring a ‘Heart Connection'” – Part One

by Caryl Tipton, Director, Music Ministry

(Excerpts from Choirs Bring a ‘Heart Connection’ by Donald E. Skinner in the Fall 2010 edition of UU World. Reprinted with permission of UU World © UUA)

Have you noticed a new addition to Crossings II in the Order of Service, ”Our Music Today”? Inspired by the work being done through Beloved Conversations and the Racial Justice Initiative Praxis Group, I wanted to provide the congregation with information about the music chosen for services, the reasons why it is chosen and the background and diversity of composers, lyricists and musicians. I hope this adds to the experience of the music in our Sunday services.

From Mr. Skinner’s article:
“One of the issues every [congregation] faces is what type of music to present. Mark Slegers, Minister of Music at the First Unitarian Church of Portland, Oregon, who consults with congregations, says this is the common reason for congregations to seek his advice. ‘If a congregation presents only classical music then some people get what they want, but others don’t.’ Typically, he said, a younger minister will arrive and want a broader array of music from a variety of cultures, but will sometimes meet resistance from the congregation or musicians. ‘Everyone in the congregation needs to be touched by the music now and then,’ he said.

‘Choirs/Music can have a big role in social justice work,’ said Sarah Dan Jones, music director at Georgia Mountains UU Church in Dahlonega, GA. ‘At peace and immigration rallies they add the soundtrack to our social justice work,’ she said. We’re using music just like the civil rights movement used “We Shall Overcome” and “’Ain’t Nobody Gonna Turn Me ‘Round.’”

Next month: How choirs bring a heart connection to our congregations and services.