Rev. Karen Doty

Why do people go to church? It’s a question often asked, and many answers have been too modern, provided, some of which I am sure reflect the ideas and biases of those that create surveys and tally the results. One recent survey produced the thought that nearly 70% of those surveyed go to primarily to hear the Word proclaimed in meaningful sermons. Approximately 37% said it was for the music.

Now there is the possibility that all the respondents had (or wished they had) ministers who preached powerful sermons. And there are many reasons why music can be a fault in worship, or at least less than fully meaningful. It may be too traditional, too modern, too somber, too fast, too unfamiliar. . . I think you get the picture. It can be difficult to get the music “right”.

Personally, I am a believer in creating a blend of music in each worship service. My awareness of the possibilities was awakened at a baccalaureate service that was part of a daughter’s graduation experience at Marquette University. That service was held in the Milwaukee basilica, and I was in awe as the very skilled and practiced musicians deftly wove together traditional and modern music played on organ, piano, brass, guitars and other strings to meaningfully support each portion of the service.

Adelphi PC was blessed with an organist skilled in all types of music during my tenure there, and on one occasion commented – “You do realize that we went from Gregorian chant through traditional, to praise – with an impromptu song of praise during the time of sharing? What fun!” Yes, I realized, but it was “a happening”, rather than a thought-out plan, as each song/hymn was chosen purposefully to serve a role in worship, and reviewed for “singability”.
So what music should we sing in worship?

The music should prepare for or support the message of the day – the scripture readings and sermon – or it might just celebrate God’s love and handiwork in our midst. There is no single right tempo for that, as some will be joyful and full of movement. Some will invite us to sink into our souls and leave space in the tempo to do so. As you know, we experienced the music of piano, violin, and our organ, in addition to our voices on Easter Sunday. I look forward to adding brass, guitar, and whatever other musical skills we have in the congregation so that we can once again create a full and joyous repertoire of music from the many traditions of music created throughout the centuries and throughout the world – music that amplifies the Word and the worship experience – not just the beat.

Contact Howie to volunteer your talents on instruments or with voice. The re-forming choir is now practicing at 9:45 on Sunday mornings and you are welcome to join in.

Blessings on our “joyful noise”.


‘Scripture is like a river – broad and deep, shallow enough here for the lamb to go wading, but deep enough there for the elephant to swim.’ – – Gregory the Great (540-604)

Contact RPC : or call 301-762-3363

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