A divine service with singing is grace

COVID-19 has even had an influence on the liturgical sequence of the divine services: where choirs used to sing, voices must often be silent now. What remains is the search for creative solutions…

Something is missing

In several divine services, Chief Apostle Jean-Luc Schneider has emphasised how much he misses the singing of the congregation and the choir. For example, he began the divine service in Siegen (Western Germany) with the words, “It is still a great pity that we are not allowed to sing together. We are missing something.” On 21 June in Bad Segeberg (Northern and Eastern Germany) the Church president again mentioned how much he missed the music. And District Apostle Rüdiger Krause went on to explain: “Music is an integral part of the divine service. During this time, even in the context of church, we find we must give up certain things that we used to take for granted: choral music, congregational singing, something instrumental perhaps. How quick we often are to criticise the musicians, begging your pardon, but when they are not there anymore, something is indeed lacking.” On 2 August 2020, when the Chief Apostle conducted a divine service in Kempten (Southern Germany), the opportunity had finally come again to frame the divine service with a small choir ensemble. The Chief Apostle expressed his great joy over this: “If someone had come to me a year ago and said, ‘Listen, did you know that it is grace to be able to sing with the congregation?’ I would have smiled politely. Today I miss this. This is the first time in ‘forever’ that I have been able to listen to a choir again.”

The rules must be observed

As long as the various rules are observed, singing in the church auditorium has once again become a possibility in many District Churches. In Western Germany, for example, no more than four choir members can sing together at a time. They must be sure to keep a minimum distance of four metres from the congregation, and a minimum distance of three metres from one another. Naturally, the church nave is ventilated after their singing is complete. And even when there is not that much space available, it is still possible to sing together: for example, in the community of Bünde (Western Germany), two married couples accompanied the service with their singing. Since the couples did not need to keep the three metres of distance between one another, the space was sufficient.

In Southern Germany, ensemble singing has also recently become possible again despite the corona pandemic, as long as certain rules are observed. Here the singers only have to keep a minimum distance of one and a half metres between themselves, but they must be five meters away from the congregation. In the congregation of Dornhan, the local youth choir delighted members and the Apostle alike during his visit. A vocal quartet also provided the musical framework for a divine service in Schwäbisch Hall. And ever since the rules were somewhat relaxed, it has been possible for a small group of choir members to sing from the gallery in the congregation of Balingen.

Singing brings joy to many Church members

For some time, the live church services on YouTube have been accompanied by vocal music, as there was no congregation in the nave. Since members have begun coming back to church, however, organisers have had to rethink the situation and come up with new solutions. In South Africa, where the divine services are not only broadcast on YouTube, but also on NAC-TV and other television channels, as well as on the radio, telephone, and live on Facebook, a musical ensemble accompanied District Apostle Helper Patrick Mkhwanazi during his sermon on July 23, 2020. The live stream divine services emanating from the central church in Abuja in Nigeria can also be regularly accompanied by vocal quartets consisting of two brothers and two sisters.

On the last day of “Dare2Care”, a youth event in South Africa that stretched from 7-9 August 2020, the young people managed to organise some music for the final divine service with District Apostle John Kriel. Among other things, they formed a band that, while paying due attention to the prescribed safety distances, performed modern songs featuring various singers. Owing to the corona pandemic, it wasn’t as though the church in Silvertown was filled to the seams, but the event was also broadcast by NAC-TV, other television channels, radio, telephone, and Facebook—and thus succeeded in unleashing a great deal of enthusiasm and joy for a large number of New Apostolic youth, guests, and other interested parties.

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