The Worship Quote of the Week for (01/12/2010):

The Choir in Worship: Part 2
There is a health update at the end of this message.
Registration is still open for the 2010 CALVIN SYMPOSIUM ON WORSHIP,
January 28-30, 2010, in Grand Rapids. Presenters include Jeremy Begbie, Marva Dawn, Keith and Kristyn Getty, Lester Ruth, John Witvliet, and many others.

Does your church's corporate worship service make use of the choral musicians the Lord has placed in your congregation, or is the choir viewed as a thing of the past? In the vast and varied landscape of Christian worship practices today, many churches are searching for a strategic, God-focused, gospel-centered use of the choir ministry. Today’s WORSHIP QUOTE is excerpted and adapted from an article written by Carl Stam for REFORMED WORSHIP magazine in 2007. The entire essay is available on the site of the Institute for Christian Worship (

We use choral selections that represent a variety of musical styles—from MESSIAH excerpts to arrangements by the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir. Somehow, with the Lord's help, we are able to avoid the idea that the choral participation is a form of entertainment. I strive to select texts and musical settings that will help our people connect to the truth of God. The texts must be understandable and consonant with the emphases of the Scriptures; and the music must elevate the text in an interesting, delightful, and beautiful way. Our congregation's heart language includes things that are simple, but never simplistic—child-like faith, yes; but childish expression, no.

I must confess that it is very rare that I choose choral selections to go specifically with the morning's sermon. I have a very high view of preaching, but I don't think that the best role for the choir is in punctuating or emphasizing the preached Word. I am much more likely to use the choir as a leading voice in the congregation's other acts of worship. Most of our choral selections fall into one of these categories:

1. General praise, Psalm-like adoration or thanksgiving — Usually towards the beginning of the service, something that goes well with Psalm 96, 98, or 100.

2. Preparation for prayer — Something that will remind us of the Lord's care for his people and his desire for us to "pour out our hearts before him" (Psalm 62:8).

3. Preparation for confession of sin — Texts that remind the congregation that we are desperate sinners in need of a Savior. "Prone to wander, Lord I feel it."

4. Acknowledgement and celebration of God's amazing forgiveness — Hallelujah! What a great Savior we have in Jesus. Sometimes the choral selection highlights the idea of Wesley's hymn text: "No condemnation now I dread. Jesus, and all in him is mine!"

5. Introducing a hymn or song to the congregation — A choral selection that ends with the congregation singing the last stanza, or with the congregation singing refrains throughout. Many publishers are featuring choral octavos that give the assembly a key voice. This is a fabulous way to use the choir as the facilitator of vibrant congregational songs of faith.

6. Contemplation on the Cross of Christ or preparation for the Lord's Supper — We celebrate the Lord's Supper monthly on Sunday mornings and twice a year at special evening services. Often, our preparation for the Table is a choral meditation.

— Carl Stam, from "Choosing and Using Choral Music in the Local Church," adapted from an article that appeared in REFORMED WORSHIP MAGAZINE, #84, June 2007 (;=86). The entire essay, including an extensive repertoire list, is available at


Blessings to all!

Chip Stam
Director, Institute for Christian Worship
School of Church Ministries
The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
Louisville, Kentucky


Dear Praying Friends,

Thanks so much for praying for my cancer treatment.

Detailed journal entries and new photos about my cancer treatment are available at (click on "journal" or "photos").

No chemotherapy treatments again this week! Apparently the chemo drugs that were given to me two weeks ago have fewer and weaker side effects than many of the others I have had in the past. Nice! I feel a little weak, but that is it. As we approach the stem cell transplant, there are now three close matches (out of five million potential donors) that are being studied for more specific typing. Pray for that process.

Please continue to pray for us, and remember to care for the cancer patients in your families, churches, neighborhoods, and places of employment.

In His loving care,

Chip Stam

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