Although it is an unusual interest as far as religious matters go, I have a personal interest in liturgy and how important people consider it to be. This subject has come up from time to time, and today I would like to highlight one of the elements of it, and that is the role of the songleader as the emcee of church services, and the way that a songleader can ineject their personality into how they lead songs. Admittedly, this is not something I often do, and the way I went about it yesterday at services (as I write this) drew the attention of one of the deaconesses, who let me know about it after services as we were chatting.
First, I would like to introduce what it is that I did so that other people may think about how this corresponds to or does not to their usual experience and practice. When discussing the first set of songs–our church tradition tends to begin services with three hymns–I commented on the theme that I had chosen the hymns on (children and animals) as well as the reason for that (the children’s rodeo that begins in three minutes or so as I am writing this hosted by our local congregation). At the beginning of the second hymn I thanked our ensemble as there were three musicians beside me, and I enjoy the sound of musical instruments added to the sound of the congregation singing joyfully. When I introduced people I commented as I usually do on their role within the congregation, something that is my usual practice when introducing people as giving prayers or sermonettes or sermons. If I were introducing a guest I would introduce them by their role as a visitor and whatever they did in another local congregation or for the church in general. Also, since the ensemble took a bit more time to get ready, I chose to lengthen my introductions to give them a bit more time to get seated and (hopefully) settled down. In the case of the last hymn I reminded the audience of the prayer requests that had been made, which I think to be a helpful way of keeping people in mind that we need to pray for.
There are many ways that one can inject a bit of one’s personality into what one is doing. Some people choose to do so via jokes and humor, which I tend not to do since I’m not really a joking sort of person but rather a person whose wit is off-the-cuff and usually dependent on context and circumstance. One could, if one chose, give a bit of a discussion on the theme of the hymns that one has chosen or the history of the songs and their context and background. Although not everyone does so, leading songs can be an opportunity for people to find out a bit more about how the songleader thinks, and this can be a good thing and an enjoyable thing for others. For me, I tend to change my approach based on the circumstances, being sensitive to those around me, or at least trying to be. Liturgy is one of those aspects of church where people have strong personal opinions, but often without being able to know why except that they have always been this way and so should remain going on this way. But that is the subject for another time.