I was tipped off to this thread at CMAA asking, “Are we required to sing?” I know I’ve written about this before, but my take is this: wrong verb. My sense is this: would that everybody sang. Should they sing? I’m not going that far. My ministry is to ensure they can.
I think a Christian believer at worship has a responsibility to participate, and I can safely suggest this responsibility carries across denominational lines. The experience of Christians is that worship bears fruit for a community and for individuals who participate in it. It is one action described consistently in the New Testament as continuing from the days of life into endless eternity. We even have significant Old Testament references to angels worshiping God. Is a mortal being required to be part of that? Nobody I know can force worship out of anyone. Some try. But it’s not something that concerns me as a worship leader.
Requirement. Duty. Mandate. Should sing. All these are the wrong approaches.
One comment from MaryAnn Carr Wilson struck me:
What’s up with the busybody tendency to look and listen to what everyone else is doing during the sacred liturgy? What’s up with some pro liturgists and some musicians bemoaning everything the (other) faithful are- or aren’t- doing? All that time and energy is wasted!
Sure, notice what’s going on. Then think about what YOU can do to foster more devotion that might lead to more singing. Then accept the fruits, many of which you will never know or see!
I suspect this has a somewhat wider target than intended. Instead of just liturgists and musicians, I think of the occasional cadre of temple police. A priest friend of mine was once captured on video by intrepid dissenters in his choir loft and reported to his bishop. All that time and energy …
With some people I do think there’s too much fretting about what other people are doing. It calls for a movement away from notions of requirement and more toward a focus on Christ and on one’s personal responsibility. Ms Wilson catches busybody liturgists and tattletales alike: focus on the log in one’s own liturgy before harping about the speck in someone else’s.