I've had some great experiences working with various musicians to create liturgy in the last few weeks, but one of the learnings for me is that I cannot take for granted the people I'm working with share my language for liturgical music. For example, I was talking today with someone and realized that even though he is going to be leading worship at my church this upcoming Sunday, as far as I can tell he has little or no experience or interest in leading congregational hymn singing as we know it in the Anglican Church. He's happy to play beautiful, worshipful music and even lead pieces that involve the choir, but he really has no idea where to start when I say something like, "Can you pick a hymn to sing during the offertory"? This just isn't one of his gifts or part of his background. No problem, that's why I'm thankful that I have a choir capable of filling in gaps like this. For the offertory we'll simply do Ben Allaway's "Freedom Come" as a paperless piece--very apt for a Black History Month service.
Meanwhile, I met with another church musician who has a much stronger background in church music, but mostly in the genre of praise and contemporary music. Interestingly, she asked me about how our congregation does paperless music and we had a long conversation about that I showed her some clips on You Tube of some of my favourite examples. She has no trouble at all leading or picking hymns.
Two Sundays ago we had an incomparable accordion player who doesn't know much about liturgy, but is pretty much fearless about learning whatever he needs to know. He also has great love for God. If I had to choose between working with someone with great musical skill and no liturgical training or background versus someone familiar with church land but with poor musical sensibility, I would take the former every time. Of course the ideal is to have both.
This time is requiring me to dig deep into what I know not just about how about music, but about you form people to lead worship and those people form us. I'm pleased about how much I am having to learn to work with people from such different musical backgounds and traditions.