When in a new parish, watch and learn. One thing I watch, especially when I’m not accompanying, is the people in the pews. How long do they take to find the music? Many church musicians play intros that are way too brief. In my new parish, I think the intros are generally too short, but they’re not too far off. It’s easy to be robotic about it: never think about the issue and do as one has always done.
For communicating music for the people to sing, there are really four choices, unless the community is somehow clairvoyant. Most places have a music minister announce page or number and title. People then pick up hymnals or missals, page through the book, and get ready to sing. How long does it take? My guess is between eight and fifteen seconds. If your parish has more than one worship book in the pews, add a few seconds.
We’ve had some discussions about omitting that verbal announcement. That was the plan in my Kansas City parish, with new hymn boards built for us. It would be my preference. In those cases, the musicians would simply start playing the music. Accompanists should add another few seconds to give people the opportunity to check the board.
Some places print a weekly worship bulletin. A superior choice in many ways. Still, add an extra second to put down or juggle the sheet and pick up the book.
Some few parishes provide the music and text, either through a projection device or by purchasing the right to duplicate music. Shorter intros here are fine, obviously.
What happens in your parish? Why?