2019 Biennial Conference

Leading the Church’s Song:

Doing Common Things Uncommonly Well

Simplicity. Shared song. Central things. Silence. Hospitality. These are marks of liturgical and musical reform that swept through the churches during the 20th century and gave birth to the service books and hymnals now used throughout North America. These marks continue to challenge the leaders of the assembly’s song who strive to do common, shared things, uncommonly well.

Whether the assembly is large or small, gathered in a rural, urban, or suburban setting or somewhere in between, the central symbols of the Word of God and the sacraments of grace can shine forth clearly when supported by the assembly’s song and diversity in musical accompaniment. The mistaken notion that beauty is a luxury to be enjoyed by the few is contradicted in the story of the church’s song: beauty in simplicity – in doing common things uncommonly well – is discerned as the assembly sings without accompaniment, sings with simple instrumentation, sings chant and Shaker melody, sings ancient acclamation to welcome the Word of God, sings a contemporary litany while receiving the Lord’s body and blood.

Participants in this summer conference will consider the central things of Lutheran worship, the ways in which shared song and musical accompaniment can reveal or obscure these central things, and the many musical practices that support simplicity and beauty – whether one serves in a small town or a sprawling metropolis. There will be ample time for reflection, common worship, reviewing new music, and practicing together the art of doing things uncommonly well.