Daniel Thomas, Church Musician
As we enter the fall season you’ll notice we’ve introduced new liturgical music. It is my hope that as a community we can continue to expand our musical boundaries in relation to worship, and where this summer’s music was based in a more contemporary American sound, this fall we are using music from Christian cultures around the world, as a reminder that music and worship transcends cultural and political boundaries.
I have incorporated traditional folk and sacred music from South Africa, Peru, Korea, Russia, China, and Jamaica, as well as a European piece from the classical era and a more contemporary Caribbean song. What I like about all of these pieces is, even though they reflect a variety of melodic and rhythmic structures, they maintain a simplicity that allow communities to learn the tunes quickly and focus on the words and their moment in worship.
You will also notice some changes in our instrumentation! First and foremost, you’ll see our handbells incorporated much more often into the liturgies; this is something we will continue to do in upcoming seasons, and I am grateful to and impressed by Rachel, Kevin, and Chuck for their willingness and quick study (Rebecca, of course, is a handbell veteran!). Secondly, you’ll also notice our guitarists often joining Ronny in playing percussion, which allows us to create more varied textures and colors.
Finally, I am spending very little time at the piano during the liturgical music – part of this is to support the different aural textures of the pieces (the piano is very much a European instrument and would not often be found in the folk traditions of these other cultures), but it is also to allow me to play a support role for the rest of our band. Since my arrival at CGS, I have wanted the band to function more as an ensemble and less as a piano with some instruments playing along. But I also recognize that our musicians are volunteers, and as such, may be absent due to family, work, or other responsibilities. This setup allows me to jump around and fill in as needed to maintain the integrity of the ensemble sound. (I will admit that it’s also a fun challenge, as I went from playing bass two weeks ago to handbells last week, and this week I’ll be doing various things to fill in for Rachel and Kevin).
As always, I hope you enjoy this liturgical music and are able to appreciate its origins and connections to God and God’s Word that all of these cultures enjoy. And as always, I welcome your thoughts and discussion on this or any music that we have here at CGS.