And we finally come to the primary reason I started this series of posts on our church – I wanted to tell you about the music (although there are a lot of great things to say about our church, which I hope to get to!)
This last December, I rather inexplicably grabbed our camera before heading out to church one morning, and wow, was the Lord in that one! The ensemble sang, and we now have a record of it of our very own.
(this is our church ensemble, singing Carol of the Bells in Ukrainian; it was originally written in Ukrainian.)
I may have mentioned that our church is a good-sized body of believers and has continued to grow. When we first started attending, it was already well over 100 people, and probably well over 200; it was hard to tell at the time because of our meeting arrangements and because of the two services. Now, I’m certain that there are a good 300 members, but the attendance is yet beyond that.
I don’t remember a lot about the music from those early days, but I do know that some musically-inclined person led the congregation in singing from the upright piano at the front of that narrow hall. There were occasions when our pastor would just lead us acapella, and sometimes we’d have a small group of people share a song, often also acapella. We did have a choir, which sang on occasion as well.
Later, in our new building’s rather large auditorium, I remember we had a young man leading the worship, also from the piano up at the front. In a room that large, there were times when the front of the room was a one place in the song and the back of the room was at another!
We returned from a year-long furlough at one point – I forget which one – and found that there were some new faces up front, and we had a whole different take on how we did music. Now we had a person leading the congregation, which is a good thing when there are that many people trying to sing together, and we had some really gifted people using those gifts in the service.
Please don’t get me wrong: we always had music and it was always wonderful, but somehow, we went from a rather informal approach to someone coordinating and bringing all of what we already had together into a unified whole. Over the course of time, the ensemble shown above came into being, and it is just beautiful when these people sing.
[no video here, but here’s another clip of the ensemble singing: http://preo.in.ua/index.php?option=com_muscol&view=song&id=16]
Some may ask, so you just sing contemporary music now? In all honesty, I’m not talking about types of music. In the last couple of years, yes, we have changed the format so that one service has more contemporary music and one has more traditional songs and hymns. But I guess I’m talking about the people, and how they serve. Watching our music leader… I just love seeing the Lord work through him.
At one point, you could see that he was developing younger man to lead the choir. It’s not that he was necessarily trying to replace himself. He’s just a teacher and it shows. Another time he accompanied a young person as they played their first song on the guitar for a service. This can be a rather intimidating thing, if my kids are any measure of the experience. I watched this young man arrange the two chairs on the platform so that the young person was his focus (they faced each other), and then watched him transition from starting the song, to accompanying, and then he basically dropped out so that his student was playing alone for the majority of the song.
Maybe that’s what so amazes me – the humility our musicians bring to their service. If you know anything about music, you notice rather quickly that our musicians are very proficient in their music. Some would say that that’s the result of being a music student in Ukraine; I won’t argue with that. But as they lead us, they bring an excellence with a humility that is just a rare jewel.
I struggle with trying to adequately express what I’m trying to get across and I fear that this will sound like I’ve become enraptured by some people and their talent. That’s not it. I guess I just wanted to share some of the amazing blessing we get to partake of every Sunday. I just love how big God is, and how he gives us glimpses of his glory, his character, his amazingness through his children. If any of them have prayed, ‘Oh Lord, let them them see you in me today,’ I think God has answered with a resounding yes.
[Just a side note: None of our musicians are professional musicians even though they’ve been classically trained to that level. They have regular day jobs and as far as I know, only one works in anything related to music.]