Many people have asked me what my philosophy of music is, and my instinctive response is to respond, “My what of what?!?!” Music is such an integral part of what I do that having a philosophy or game plan seems like a put-on. I don’t philosophize about music; I do music. But when I start talking about what I do, explaining what I think I do and how I do it, a clear concept appears.
Music is a link to God in the same way that any gift or talent or grace is a link to God. People through the ages have used any number of God’s gifts to make contact: sculpture, stained glass windows, poetry, painting, ceramics, hieroglyphics, jogging, sunset-watching, camping, singing, dancing, and transcendental meditation as links to God. We usually call this contact with God prayer.
We strive so to find our spiritual friend, guide, counselor, confessor, wailing wall, encourage, inspirer, salvation-giver because this is part or our healthy human nature. We instinctively strive to make contact with our genesis.
Music is one of the first and most readily attainable of the communicative tools we have for making ourselves known to God. Here at Plymouth, we enjoy a long history of congregational singing dating from Henry Ward Beecher’s tenure as Plymouth’s first pastor. In the early part of the twentieth century, Henry Pfohl founded the Plymouth Choir, adult singers who regularly lead worship on Sunday mornings. Over time the choir program has grown to include the Junior Choir, the Seraph Choir, the Cherub Choir, and the Tone Chime Choir.
Each of these groups works on learning and perfecting music for Sunday worship, learning more about the Christian faith along the way. Each choir is also a support group in its own way. As choirs work together, we also come to know each other. We find out about each other’s lives, sharing good times and sad times and offering a collective shoulder to lean on when it’s needed. In this way, the choirs emulate the whole body of Christ that is the church.
Choirs at Plymouth are inclusive groups, welcoming all. Everyone willing to make the commitment to regular rehearsals is gladly welcomed into choir. So come join us and help make a joyful noise to the Lord!
Did I mention that singing is also good for your health? It’s true! Research findings show that singing strengthens the immune system, provides a physical workout, improves posture, helps you sleep, lowers stress level, and is a natural anti-depressant. Add in that it’s wonderful way to praise God, and what’s not to love about singing? Open wide and sing “La.”
In music and in Christ, Bruce Oelschlager, Minister of Music