Then Sings My Soul - Musical Style at Peace
One of the first things you notice when visiting a church is its musical style. Some churches are more traditional, with choir and organ. Others have a rock band. Many have more of a ‘gospel music’ feel. Here at Peace, the music is a guitar- and piano-driven mix of hymns and praise music. I sometimes describe our musical style this way: We are seeking an organic, approachable folk and bluegrass aesthetic for our corporate worship music.
No one musical style is better than another; however, each church does have to make decisions about which musical style best fits its unique personality. In our particular case, as we continue down the aesthetic path described above, we choose for each Sunday’s worship music a guitar- and piano-driven mix of traditional hymns, modern hymns and worship songs, led by an ensemble consisting of guitar, piano, cello, violin, mandolin, banjo, percussion, vocalists and occasional other instruments.
One change that has taken place as we have more intentionally chosen this direction has been a repurposing of the choir. The classical/choral aesthetic that the choir brings does not fit the musical style that we’ve long embraced for Sunday mornings, and so we are not including choral anthems in worship; however, the choir continues to play an active and vibrant role in our church’s ministry and outreach.
As part of our mission as a church to love Cary, the choir now represents Christ by traveling to local assisted living facilities to sing. The choral aesthetic is appreciated in these communities, whose residents likely grew up listening to and singing this type of music, and to whom this style of music is more likely to appeal. Additionally, our visits give choir members good opportunities to interact with the residents. Our goal is to have compassion on this overlooked segment of society, as James instructs the church in 1:27 “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction…”
As our church’s musical style develops and changes, there may be discomfort. In particular, people who appreciate choral anthems during worship may feel disappointed. If you feel that way, please know that I understand. We all have personal preferences when it comes to style of worship. I would encourage you to prayerfully consider that our current music style is meant to engage a people living in a culture (both inside and outside the church) where most do not understand or appreciate the choral style. It also helps to remember that our job as worshippers of the Almighty God is to joyfully love and serve him and our fellow man. Musical style and preferences, though significant, are secondary to worshipping our Savior in spirit and in truth.
If you’re interested in finding out more, please go to peacepca.org/music-outreach.