Active participation by Christian laity in singing is a goal assumed by all liturgical leaders, scholars, and musicians. Is singing, though, the only form of active participation in liturgical music? What about listening? Drawing on discussions of listening by Aaron Copland, Frank Burch Brown, and Ronald J. Allen, it becomes clear that listening well is an active task, one for which musical leaders must prepare their congregations. Lay people should be encouraged to both receive music as a gift and to search out what it means in relationship to the congregation, the day, and the liturgical context. Congregations also need to be equipped with the background necessary to perceive the music in question, such as information about the composer or implications of a text being sung or the musical means employed. Finally, the emotional atmosphere of a piece, the musical content or language, and the relationship between performer and congregation are all critical components in the listening that takes place in worship. As church leaders equip congregation members to commune at the Lord’s Table, so church leaders should give congregations a glimpse of how the music of choir or organ or other instruments can be a vehicle for grace and for encountering God’s presence.
"Full, Conscious, and Active…Listening?,"
Northwestern Review: Vol. 1
, Article 2.
Available at: http://nwcommons.nwciowa.edu/northwesternreview/vol1/iss1/2