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From our Music Director

“Hardships often prepare ordinary people for an extraordinary destiny.” C.S. Lewis

I have always been a firm believer that when things have gotten tough in my life, that I will be a stronger person for having gotten through the struggle. I have seen this many times; from my broken marriage, to my layoffs at my work, to my dad’s passing.

I am in a rough spot right now, as I wrestle with what church music will look like for the months ahead.

Leading scientists and singing experts have let us know that singing in groups (like at church services) is dangerous right now, because more air is used in singing than in speaking. So, corporate singing is not available for congregations until there is a vaccine.

So…what to do?

As a church musician, my main focus in church has always been the music. But I have been thinking that I now have an opportunity to focus on some other aspects of worship.

Since I’ve been hosting Zoom Coffee Hours and Social Hours, I’ve seen the importance of community and connectedness that people need and crave, especially during this time of sheltering in place. These social times are a form of worship that are very meaningful. Please let me know if you’d like to join us – we have people of all ages on Zoom; we can help you with computer issues! 

I’ve had an opportunity to become more familiar with recording technology during these past months. The hymns last Sunday were recorded with my Garage Band app, and all the voices you heard were mine, but on different tracks. I also used different tracks on my recording of Veni Sancte Spiritus on Pentecost Sunday. This new technology is not within my comfort zone, but I am happy to learn new things in order to enhance the worship experience for all of us.

I am also concentrating on the text of songs and prayers a lot more than I used to. When singing, I tend to think more of whether I am playing or singing the correct musical notes than about the text. My choir members know that I often sing the wrong verse of a hymn because I get “off” of the line of text – I always tell them not to trust me; they know best what verse they are on! But now that I am relying on recordings and listening more than performing live, I find myself pondering the text of the hymns and really thinking about the deeper meanings of what the authors meant, and how each hymn relates to the readings of each Sunday.

When we are able to worship together, it will not be the “same as usual” right away. There will be restrictions and new rules and some parts of worship will be excluded. This is not a bad thing – it is just different. And there is great possibility for wonderful new things to happen in the future to transform our worship, when we can all come together to worship again. 

Lori had asked the Vestry and staff to “think boldly” at our yearly retreat in January. I believe we can still think boldly. Think boldly about what St. James’ can be for the future, when we come through these trying times. What could we be? What an opportunity we really have! As C.S. Lewis said, what is our “extraordinary destiny”?

~Jennifer Ravera