Live Music in Sunday Services

Hello Members and Friends of Grace Lutheran Tampa!

We have offered a live-streamed Sunday morning service at Grace since June 7th, and the participation and response has been outstanding! We have people coming to the sanctuary at 10:00 worshiping in person, and people staying in place and worshiping with the help of online streaming through personal computers or smartphones. And some people alternate between the two options choosing when and how to worship each week. We are pleased with the positive feedback, helpful suggestions of improvements, and we’re especially pleased to report that there has been no evidence of COVID-19 transmission through our in-person contact thus far (God willing!).

The Worship and Music Committee and GLC staff feel the time is right to begin taking steps toward resuming the intertwining of Word and Music in our liturgical worship. We start by exercising caution and sensitivity to the pandemic climate and the comfort level of our parishioners.

You may have noticed that since August 30th, we have gradually added back live music during Sunday morning worship, in addition to the Organ Prelude and Postlude. Lisa Watson has sung vocal solos with her specially designed Opera Singer Mask. The Joyringers bell choir began Wednesday evening rehearsals at the beginning of September in hopes of sharing anthems in the near future.

The Music staff invites others in our congregation to consider sharing your talents with us as well! Keyboard instruments (organ, piano, synthesizer), Percussion instruments (hand bells, tympani, drum set, handheld small percussion), and String instruments (guitar, violin, cello, string bass, harp) can be played by wearing face masks and socially distancing. Wind instruments (flute, trumpet, oboe, etc.) and Vocal solo music will need extra protective equipment and distancing precautions to be played in assembly with safety in mind (Lisa has some resources to share on how to purchase or sew these masks and coverings). Please contact Lisa via email  if you would like to prepare and share a musical offering.

Also, starting on Sunday, September 20th, we plan to include a congregational hymn at the end of service, as long as local COVID-19 activity is stagnant or declining, by following these extra safety protocols:

  1. Every person in the sanctuary is wearing a mask over their nose and mouth, including ministers and those choosing not to sing.
  2. All people are facing the same direction, looking toward the altar and the lyrics on the projection screens. The only exception will be Jim at the organ console, who will play an introduction to give the ministers time to move from the altar to the baptismal font and face the same direction as the congregation.
  3. Keep the hymn under 5 minutes of singing.
  4. Everyone leaves the sanctuary during the Postlude, followed by Jim and the camera operator. No one enters the sanctuary again until there is at least one HVAC air change (approximately 20-30 minutes).

We feel it is important to give you plenty of notice of these changes so you can ask questions and receive clarifications on the procedures we’ve put in place. Bringing back group singing for the entire congregation before we resume our choir or praise band is a conscious theological choice, based on our traditions from both the origins of Lutheranism and our present day stance:

“At every opportunity Luther and his colleagues were concerned to get the whole congregation—not just part of it—involved in the singing, teaching them of the need to sing the scriptural Word, giving them the texts and melodies to sing, and supplying the musical means by which an antiphony of unison and harmony graced their services of worship.” – Robin Leaver, The Whole Church Sings: Congregational Singing in Luther’s Wittenberg

“Music from all styles can be welcome in worship. What is central is that the musical style serves the gospel. It is not the music, finally, that is central; the music points to the assembly gathered around Word, Bath and Table…The voice of the assembly is the primary instrument in worship…Encourage participation rather than performance. Musical Leadership serves the assembly when it strives for participation by the whole assembly.” – Worship Formation & Liturgical Resources: Frequently Asked Questions; How is Worship Traditional? How is Worship Contemporary?,

We are enthusiastic about singing in the sanctuary again, and we hope you are too!

In Christ,

Lisa Watson

Director of Traditional Music