It seems there is never quite enough time in any given rehearsal. No matter how well planned, I find that I am always trying to squeeze in just one more verse to a hymn, one last check on the bass line at measure 26, one final run-through of an anthem… Yet I have found over the years that the one thing we absolutely cannot skimp on, time-wise, is choir devotions/prayer.
The benefits of spending time in prayer with your choir far outweigh the disadvantages of lost rehearsal time. Church choirs are much more than musical groups. They are, or can become, communities of people who not only love music but also learn to care for and support one another. Prayer creates a powerful bond that can lead to strengthening of relationships, deepening of faith, and surprising revitalization. A group that is open to the Holy Spirit may find itself moved in ways previously unimagined.
If you are not currently doing devotions or praying with your choir, you might consider starting this practice during the season of Lent. Designate ten minutes of each rehearsal and stick to it. There are myriad possibilities for how this time may be structured:
- Read a written devotion from a published resource such as Soli Deo Gloria: Choir Devotions for Year C by Wayne Wold.
- Ask for prayer requests, after which you as the director pray aloud on behalf of the group, including all persons and situations named. (Take notes as the requests are made!)
- You as the director begin the prayer, then open it up for others to speak their concerns and/or joys.
- Ask for volunteers from the group to provide a devotion/prayer for a particular rehearsal. You know the group—would people be more comfortable signing up in advance or volunteering on the fly?
- Gather a list of names of particular groups in your congregation. Choose one or two names from the list at each rehearsal and pray specifically for them. Suggested groups might include:
- Home-bound members
- College students
- Those who are ill, grieving, or going through difficult times
- Those who are celebrating: births, birthdays, marriages, anniversaries
- Pray for the countries highlighted each week on the Ecumenical Prayer Cycle of the World Council of Churches.
- Sing or speak together the Lord’s Prayer.
- Sing a benediction or blessing song.
When Lent is finished, continue the practice of praying together at rehearsals. May blessings abound!