I write this having come to the end of a fulfilling week in Minneapolis, MN at the 2017 National Conference of the Association of Lutheran Church Musicians. We have gathered together as a group of people who care deeply about leading people in proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ through song. There have been opportunities to worship together, to reconnect with colleagues, to let our hair down, and to consider our work as church musicians.
One of the keynote speeches this week focused on the word ‘Cantor.’ We often think of this word in relation to the psalms – where the verses are sung responsively between one person (the cantor) and the rest of the gathered people. At the conference, we learned about the history behind this term, with its distinctly Lutheran heritage, as a title for the person in the church who is charged with cultivating the people’s song whether by leading a choir or playing for services.
In this 500th anniversary year of Martin Luther’s 95 theses, it seems appropriate not only to think about how we can claim our past, but also how we continually reform. Near the end of our conference of Lutheran Church Musicians, we gathered with the monks of a Roman Catholic Abbey (St. John’s Abbey in Collegeville) and prayed together with psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs. This moving service emphasized our shared heritage as members of the body of Christ and was a hopeful turn toward the future.
Worship at the conference was inspiring. There were countless varieties of styles presented, but one that stuck with me was the paperless music we engaged in. During these times, a worship leader invited us to sing music led through call and response. Such music gathered us together through a shared learning experience and served the needs of our worship perfectly.
I’m looking forward to incorporating some of what I’ve learned this week into our worship together at St. Peter’s. Until then, blessings for a great end of the summer!