It has come to an end. For now.

 

Last night was my church’s final Sunday night service for the spring, and we won’t pick back up until the start of fall, since we take a break for the summers. (I think it is nice that we have an evening service since the majority of Presbyterians just keep it at the house on Sunday nights!) Having an evening service gives us an opportunity to have a more informal worship time and for our pastor to talk on specific subjects, or pull lessons from books he is reading, and have time for questions/discussion.

 

From our hymnbook I selected “The Solid Rock” and at our pastor’s request we also sang “Rock of Ages, Cleft for me” along with our pianist, then after our lesson I closed our service with “Jesus, What a Friend for Sinners” by myself on guitar. It went well, I think, and lately I’ve been receiving compliments on the music. It’s encouraging to say the least considering how painful our worship has been for me and maybe others over the course of the last year.

 

It all started when our paid pianist had left for another church last summer, so a lady in our church had her hands full just filling in for our morning service since she was not as well-practiced as our former pianist. For various reasons I have never been free or able to play in a worship setting since my teen years and I still play guitar so I volunteered to provide worship music for the evening service that had just begun in the fall. At first I was overwhelmed by it. Translating the music of traditional hymns on strictly acoustic guitar proved to be more difficult than I had thought, and leading people in worship proved to be more challenging than I thought it would be. It also took time during the week to pick out and practice the songs I would play on Sunday. Unfortunately it was not as….. fun as I thought it would be either, and I actually wanted to quit for some time. I “hung in there” because there were fleeting moments when I genuinely enjoyed it and felt like I was filling a legitimate need by selecting and ordering the songs and providing some music instead of us just cherry-picking a song out of the hymnbook to sing acapella like they used to. But when I messed up, sang flat, flubbed a chord change, or screwed up the tempo, I felt like I was frustrating the flow of worship. I was a hindrance and an obstacle, rather than an asset.

 

Sadly, I still feel like a screw-up at times, but thankfully I feel like I have come a long way.

  • I worked out sound system issues so now I play my guitar though the house speakers (which lets me compete with the volume of the grand piano) and now have my own microphone and boom stand, and can provide myself with a stage monitor mix.
  • I have familiarized myself with a ton of older hymns, and found much of what works, and what doesn’t work to mesh musically with a pianist.
  • I have compiled my own book of music with guitar chords that corresponds to our church’s hymnbook so its all at my fingertips.
  • I’ve learned to read piano clef music a bit, in a pinch.
  • I’ve introduced several “modern hymns” or new songs to my congregation, from Indelible Grace’s tunes or from Reformed Praise, and many church members have responded favorably.
  • My singing voice has improved slightly, and my appreciation for congregational singing has grown immensely.
  • And overall, I hope that over the last year our church group has found a deeper worship and reflection on God’s love through our evening service’s music. If they have, then I guess it was all worth it.

A year gone, but yet I’m just beginning.

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