Musicians, the unsung heroes of worship and praise

It takes many people offering their gifts to the glory of God to maintain a church congregation. From people who set up for services and other activities, to those who take down and straighten-up.

There are people who clean, kitchen workers, ushers, those who participate in administration, those who preach and those who read publicly, Sunday School teachers, Vacation Bible School people, those faithful who attend church regularly offering their tithes and pledges, and a myriad of other things — known and unknown.

We generally see the clergy, and acknowledge their work, but as an old friend of mine once quipped, “You have to survive your clergy and to do so means a dedicated group of believers!”

He is right, everyone’s offering is important and needs to be acknowledged, as well as the love that generates it. It is together that we make up the Body of Christ.

I want to take a column thanking a particular group of people who bring an important quality to our services, without which we would find ourselves lacking — church musicians. I know that when I offer a thanksgiving for the musicians who work in churches — paid or volunteer — it is to join my voice with countless others who share a deep sense of gratitude for their endeavors on behalf of us all, and in praise and thanks for the blessing of their gifts in our lives. To offer oneself in such a way, vocally or instrumentally, is an expression of love, a true offering of ministry.

In my own parish, I think of our organist and choirmaster, our choir, who give so unselfishly to us all, and enable us to do more than we could dream possible as we gather to the glory of God to offer worship and praise. Yet I also think of all those I know, have known, even those I have not met nor even heard of, in many times and places, who have offered/offer themselves, and efforts, their energies, to make worship so much for so many – whose music transcends time and space to raise us all into the nearer presence of God. Thank you!

A prayer: “Heavenly Father, around whom the heavenly choirs sing their praises, ‘Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord…’ We give thee thanks for those who reflect thy glory on earth through the gift of music. A gift that raises the spirit, transcending earthly bounds by bringing us into thy closer presence. Thou hast called into this ministry those willing to share their very essence through performance, not out of a personal desire for aggrandizement but out of love for thee, and for thy glory. Help us to remember in our prayers these special people, their ministry, and the work they do. May we encourage them, and express to them their importance to us, as we raise them in our thoughts to thee, especially for their enrichment of our common worship of thee. Amen.”

The Rev. Walter Van Zandt Windsor is rector at Trinity Episcopal Church.

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