A different "they" this time. This time I'm thinking about the people in our parishes who don't get very involved and may not even come every Sunday. If we the British Parliament, we'd call them "the back benchers". Generally they don't sing much.
But I must say one of the things that give me the greatest satisfaction as a Cantor is when I see and hear these folks singing the liturgy and the hymns. I just love it! Every parish has her singers, but a parish that has lots of 'ordinary folk' singing the Lord's song is one that cherishes music as integral to our life together in the Gospel. Sure, a percentage of stereotypical 'back benchers' would do so without a cantor's service in the Lord's ministry, but the percentage has gotten higher at Bethany and, observing many of these same folks over the years, I can see how the Lord has used the cantoral office to help the Word dwell richly in many people who'd never even think of joining a choir.
Do you know what I'm talking about? Here are a few examples:
1 - The 8th grade boy who'd been coming more often to church with his family because he was headed to confirmation. Hymnal was open for every hymn, including the communion hymns. He was sitting up straight and singing right along on all the stanzas.
2 - Pastor noting several times this year how much he enjoys the acolyte's singing. That's right: most of our acolytes sing out, even though they are not seated next to parishioners who might give them "the security of numbers". Last Sunday he mentioned how much he enjoyed a couple of them singing harmony with him.
3 - Visiting Pacific Hills in Omaha many years ago (1994) and hearing a visibly blue collar mother & two teenage daughters sing the liturgy robustly behind me with untrained, yet sincere voices. They clearly had a Lutheran piety. My chat with them afterwards confirmed that they considered themselves in no way to be candidates for any involvement in church choir or anything. They just sing the Lord's song because of the faith the Lord has given them. (Ably nurtured in this by the organist there at the time, Charles Ore).
Yes, faith sings. Isn't it great to hear it?!