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Where Have All the Choirs Gone?
By: Chris Culver

A man I know was staying with a friend for the weekend. The first evening at the children's bed time his friend's son walked in the room, held up two fingers towards his dad, and said "too." His dad smiled knowingly, returned the gesture, and warmly said "too" back. The child went off to bed. The second night the same bedtime ritual occurred, but this time the son stopped and asked, "Daddy, why do we say 'too' every night?" The man looking a little wounded said, "Son, we have been doing that since you were very little. Every night you would come and say, "Daddy, I love you" and I would reply "I love you too." Pretty soon we would just say 'too' and it meant I love you and you love me." Somewhere along the way the ritual that originally meant so much, a special thing between father and son, lost its meaning to the son.   Recently, many churches have started picking up some of old traditions. Churches that have not previously marked time by the church calendar have added observations of Advent and Lent. There has also been a resurgence in the use of creeds. These were originally abandoned by many because they were thought to be empty ritual. I hope churches find the great creeds and seasons of contemplation meaningful and deeply beneficial. I definitely do, but if we do not clearly and regularly communicate the truth and value that lie behind the ritual there will come a time again when someone will ask, "Why do we say 'too'?" And what means so much to us will be disregarded by our children as empty ritual.   I think this might be a contributing factor to the demise of choirs. Maybe we forgot to tell the next generation why they are valuable. To be clear, our church does not have a choir and our worship is amazing. I do not think it is wrong to get rid of choirs. There are good reasons to do so. But I do love a good choir.   The reason given every time I have heard church staff discussing cutting their choirs has been, "The young people want a band." Certainly, there are other reasons. Church commitment isn't what it used to be. It is very difficult to get people to commit to choir practice these days. But the overwhelming reason I have heard given is that the new generation wants a band.   Maybe the next generation doesn't want a band. Maybe we forgot to explain the value we saw in choirs. Maybe we weren't clear about the joys of lifting your voice with others to the God who created the universe. Perhaps we did a bad job of connecting our choirs to the Psalms of Ascent sung by the followers of God on their way to Jerusalem. Maybe we forgot to teach about leadership and joy. I hope choirs don't go away. Where else can so large percent of the congregation work together weekly to craft their voices into a glorious praise of God? Churches don't have to have a choir, mine doesn't, but if you are like me and are going to miss them we definitely need to start explaining how they help us. If we don't, we shouldn't be surprised when people forget.