Happy New Year!
No, I’m not a month early; last Sunday we marked the beginning of a new church year with Advent. And what a strange church year it has been in 2020!
At Grace, we have kept the music going despite COVID-19. We started humbly on March 15th with a 9 minute song and message recorded on an iPhone propped up on the bell table, and grew into an almost complete service with special music prerecorded or prepared carefully to avoid spreading germs, masked congregational singing toward the end of service, and prerecorded hymns and songs to listen to and sing from home. And of course, sophisticated audio and visual equipment chosen by the Technology committee and operated by the multi-talented David Vickers. We have made a huge leap in our mission to Make Christ Known!
Now, we usually associate Advent and Christmas with lots of beautiful music and especially SINGING! And while we are “WAITING” (thanks for the visual in Sunday’s Children’s Message, Jim!) not only for the birthday of Jesus, but for a new vaccine to become available to the general public, we should continue to stay vigilant and follow the safety precautions that we have become so familiar with this year to combat the coronavirus pandemic.
Jim Sawyers and I have learned how to utilize our computers’ audio and video software to share hymns, songs, and anthems with you all from the safety of our homes. I’d like to thank the people who made up the recording group since March, who carefully monitored their own health, and took the risk to gather once or twice a month to prepare recordings for Grace Lutheran: Pastor John, Jim Sawyers, Jason Carrier, Nancy Richardson, Matt Cox, Debra Pedonti, Becky Blackmon, Erik Hagen, Maggie Scott, Connie & Brad Schmucker, Nadine Anderson, and Rev. Richard Hans.
Now that Jim and I have better knowledge on how to incorporate more people into the music ministry safely with virtual music projects, we would like to extend the invitation to participate to ALL of our congregation! December is the time to sing and play music and make a Joyful Noise to our Lord! There are numerous ways you can lend your talents to our Advent and Christmas celebrations!
• Hymn Supplement Videos – We are going to create these videos strictly from home these next few weeks until the local coronavirus case index drops down again. You can participate by singing or playing Advent and Christmas carols from home. You don’t need special equipment, just a phone, tablet, or computer that can record video. We can give you the sheet music and/or accompaniment if needed. Jason and Hannah Carrier offered an excellent example last week with “Like A Tree”. With this unprecedented year, we’ll allow more Christmas carol singing in the Advent season. 🙂 If you’d like to do this with your household (all households, from one person to a dozen are invited), your contact is Jim, and you can email him at email@example.com
• Lessons and Carols Project – This concert is a beloved tradition at Grace, and we didn’t want to exclude it this year. The Chancel Choir will record from their homes 10 anthems by using recorded templates to stay together with pitch and rhythm (similar to what we did for the 50th Anniversary anthem). We would also like to have up to 9 Readers to share the various Scripture readings that tell the prophecies of the Messiah and Jesus’ birth. If you’d like to join us on the Lessons & Carols project, Singers will contact Lisa, and my email is firstname.lastname@example.org. Those who want to be a Reader will contact Jim, and you can email him at email@example.com
• Contemporary Song Projects – Similar to the Lessons & Carols project but only one song at a time. I’ve chosen two contemporary songs for December to record musicians from their homes using a template, and put together prerecorded videos. If you’d like to sing or play instruments on this project, your contact is Lisa, and you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
• Special Music for December services – We are delighted when congregation members volunteer to offer music during our live services, including Christmas Eve. We have the option of sharing that music prerecorded, or in person (provided you have the protective masks to do so safely.) If you’d like to share a musical offering during service in person, your contact is Jim, and you can email him at email@example.com. Those who prefer to prepare special music with a prerecorded video will contact Lisa at firstname.lastname@example.org
Thanks very much for reading this long invitation! It’s a lot of information, and I wanted to make sure we “got it out there” quickly so you could begin planning and practicing. One of my favorite sayings that came out of 2020 is from Pastor Carey Nieuwhof who wrote, “The methods change but the mission remains the same.” Music is an integral part of our congregation, our denomination, and the Church! Let’s continue to sustain it with our time and talents as we are able to this season.
Many blessings to you, and again, Happy New Year!
Director of Traditional Music
Grace Lutheran Church at Carrollwood
“Grace is a place of Faith, Hope and Healing for ALL”