Are all Mennonites good singers?

Mennonites believe that the most significant music during worship is congregational singing. However, organs, choirs, pianos, and worship bands are sometimes used to help draw people into worship. A song leader is used by many congregations almost like a choir director, and in a sense, the congregation becomes a “choir of the whole.”

In the past, some Mennonites did not use musical instruments in worship and are still uneasy about overpowering musical elements whether it is organ or amplified instruments, or fancy new buildings with poor acoustics (which detract from the congregation’s voice).

In choosing music for worship, function and role take priority over musical style, aesthetics or personal favorites. All styles of music have potential to contribute to worship when sung with integrity, whether it be a kryie, an African refrain, anthem or praise song.

Mary Oyer, professor emeritus of Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary, says that music “draws people from their personal circle of thought and experience into a group relationship. It provides a bridge between our individualistic activities and the body of Christ … Our worship must be an extension of our lives.”

(Written from ideas in Music in Worship, A Mennonite Perspective, Bernie Neufeld, Herald Press, 1998; “The ABCs of Mennonite Worship,” Rod Stafford, The Mennonite, June 15, 1999; and “What Do We Sing When We Are At War,” Christy Risser, The Mennonite, June 15, 1999.)

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