|Some common solutions:
||Consider the following:|
||It is possible to worship without music. As a regular practice, this would hardly seem natural for most Lutheran congregations. Perhaps a compromise — spoken liturgy with a few familiar hymns — would work. On occasion, a spoken service can be an effective alternative.|
|Use piano or guitar
||The piano can be an excellent instrument for leading congregational singing, especially music in some popular, gospel, or global styles. In some situations, a quality piano can provide better leadership than a weak organ, especially in dry acoustics. Guitars add an appropriate timbre to certain styles of music but must be played with skill to be effective as the primary instrument for leading congregational song. By simplifying the harmony in the hymnal, many traditional hymns can be effectively led with guitar.
Because of the human way it creates sounds (air blowing through a tube), a good pipe organ, coupled with lively acoustics and confident leadership, is still the ideal instrument for leading traditional congregational song. Unfortunately, this ideal combination is not always available. We do the best we can with available resources.
||Electronic instruments are adding an exciting array of sounds to our musical palette. Unless the instrument is of very high quality and amplified clearly throughout the room, however, it should be used primarily for solo lines and color, with an acoustic piano providing the foundation. Most important is that the electronic instrument is played by a human being in worship!|
|Use sequenced or recorded accompaniments
||This is a dangerous solution! It seems so easy, economical, and likely to guarantee immediate success. However, we must always remember that the church is the baptized people of God gathered in community around Christ made present in the scriptures and a holy meal. We are human beings gathered in community. Electronic devices are not human and do not participate in community. They do not breathe as we humans do when we sing. They cannot respond to the emotions that humans feel at any given moment and compensate musically in an appropriate way.
The church existed and congregational singing flourished for centuries before instruments entered the assembly. Do you have one or more singers (a youth perhaps?) who could simply lead unaccompanied singing? It would be better to limit the congregational song to a small repertoire of well-known hymns, sung by live voices alone, than to allow mechanical devices to control our worship.
|Assume that we’ll never have organists or pianists again
||When one considers the state of music education in most American schools, it is easy to think this way. It is time for the church to take back its role in training musicians. Consider offering a scholarship to a member of your congregation for piano or organ lessons. In exchange for the lessons, that person could eventually play for your worship service. Explore your hidden resources: many people (both young and old) have already taken piano lessons and just need encouragement and an opportunity. A congregation should also take on the responsibility of funding participation in continuing education for those who are already trained.|
|Assume that small congregations can never pay for musical leadership
|Routinely, surveys and statistics show us that the quality of music is a major factor in congregational health and growth (in all its definitions). Many congregations are able to budget for musical leaders. For some congregations, realizing the value of excellent music and establishing new budget priorities for a congregation to be able to pay a musician is all it would take. However, small congregations may not have the financial resources to hire a trained musician. It may be time for congregations to get creative and share leadership. We have a good precedent in Lutheranism! J. S. Bach supervised the music of four congregations in Leipzig at the same time. In addition to providing music themselves, such persons could enable and encourage musicians from within each congregation in using their talents in worship.|